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A Positive Future for Canadian Oil and Gas

Cody Battershill

If you weren’t sure whether Canada ought to control its own destiny and take its place among the safest, most innovative, most reliable and successful energy suppliers on the planet, a recent study from life-cycle experts at Stanford, U of Toronto and U of Calgary might help convince you.

Before I get into its details, let’s acknowledge first that the study couldn’t have come at a better time, as the world’s oil and gas sector requires some $2 trillion in global investment by 2030 just to keep up with demand. Canada’s part of that number.

Recent purchases by major refiners point toward strong global demand for Canadian oil, both right now and in future – but we lack sufficient market access. Compare us to Alaska, Texas, Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia and many others. They have the access; we don’t.

And while the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) will enable Canadian oil to find its way to global markets without discounting every barrel as it passes through the U.S. Gulf Coast, we shouldn’t settle merely for better access. The new study has a terrific story to tell, and we should tell it.

Some of the best life cycle analysts at Stanford, U of C and U of T found upstream oilsands emissions intensities are lower than previously reported – and by a significant amount, from 14 to 35 per cent. The study compared recent data from 2018 to a study based on data from 2015.

Further, the study, which was supported by Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta, found that new technological advancements are projected to reduce upstream emissions from steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operations even further – by 14 to 19 per cent.

We should be proud of those figures, and of the fact our nation ranks number one out of the world’s top 20 oil reserve holders on environmental, social and governance metrics, and we’re global leaders in sustainable oil and gas production.

But again, these strong numbers on emissions intensities reductions are just part of a bright future. Without access in the form of TMX, Canadians will likely miss out on an extraordinary economic benefit. TMX will help transport valuable, environmentally responsible Canadian oil to global markets, all the while maximizing the price we receive for our resources.

Those benefits flow to every Canadian. How? Consider that between 2000 and 2018, the oil and gas sector contributed nearly $500 billion to government revenues. Today it supports hundreds of thousands of jobs right across the country.

Continually evolving advancements in emissions efficiencies, improved market access and our exceptional ranking on environmental, social and governance leadership point to a promising era for Canadian oil and gas. Let’s ensure it happens.

Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.