November 5, 2019 Maureen McCall
What’s the breakthrough needed for Canadian Oil and Gas support and development?
Alberta Energy Minister Sonia Savage thinks the answer lies within solid support for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.
Interest was high at the Energy and Natural Resources Summit hosted by the National Coalition of Chiefs yesterday at the Grey Eagle Event Centre in Calgary. It was a gathering of Energy Industry thought leaders like CAPP’s Tim McMillan together with Indigenous leaders Delbert Wapass (Project Reconciliation), Chief Roy Fox (Indigenous Resource Council Chairman) , Political leaders like Alberta Energy Minister Sonia Savage and Rick Wilson, Alberta Minister of Indigenous Relations as well as Industry advocates Vivian Krause and Cody Battershill of Canada Action. But what ideas did this gathering of leaders develop? Some would say they laid strong groundwork for the onerous task that lies ahead of the Energy Industry to counteract four years of frustrated development and growth. Bronwyn Eyre, Saskatchewan Minister of Energy Resources accurately characterized Federal actions as “Death by a thousand processes” as Industry faced increases in regulatory requirements, delays and cancellation of projects. In reference to the role of Indigenous groups she stated:
“In so many ways, you hold the key. When you think about it, the oil companies haven’t been able to see these projects through – Keystone XL, Energy East, Northern Gateway. Pro-Energy governments like Saskatchewan and Alberta continue to have a heck of a time convincing Canada to embrace Energy. But you can do it, if you as First Nations promote positive Western Canadian Energy. I think the Federal government will listen to you and you can be major unifiers of this country.”
Alberta Energy Minister Sonia Savage outlined the strategies that the Alberta government is pursuing with confidence. Afterall, she’s had a front row seat to the last four years of challenges that Alberta’s Energy sector faced while working in private industry.
“In less than a decade, organized opposition to the oil sands landlocked our resources, led to failed pipelines, capacity restraints, production curtailment, lack of investment, and a jobs crisis in Alberta. I saw this unfold when working in the private sector, and now as Minister of Energy, I see the devastating impacts this has on the economy and all Albertans, including Indigenous peoples. We’ve had enough of these deceitful attacks on our energy sector. It’s time to take a much more assertive approach”
So how is the Alberta government standing up for the oil and gas sector? There several initiatives. To address investment loss, they intend to create a sound fiscal environment. They intend to use tax cuts to stimulate job creation. They are bringing back a competitive environment with several measures including the Royalty Guarantee Act, review of the AER and more. By far, the most interesting initiative is increased appreciation of and collaboration with Indigenous Groups. According to Minister Savage, building relations with Indigenous peoples in Alberta and across Canada is key. To that end, there is a $10 million litigation fund, to support the legal efforts of First Nations who support responsible resource development. The Alberta government is also setting up a $1 billion Alberta Indigenous Opportunities corporation to facilitate financial participation in and co-ownership of major resource projects. Projects like Calvin Helin’s Eagle Spirit Energy Corridor are the types of projects that they hope will be applying to the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities corporation fund. Indigenous groups want to develop natural resources – being owners is a pathway out of poverty. Lacking the fiscal capacity to get sizeable loans, this program will help groups to purchase into key projects. The Industry has been rocked by news in the last seven days of Encana’s redomicile to the US and Pengrowth’s sale at a 75% discount, but Minister Savage’s view is that these are not sudden developments but rather the result of the last four years of mismanagement.
“We saw an abysmal approach to Oil and Gas coming out of the Federal government. Everything from killing Northern Gateway and after. The signal that sends to the market when governments interfere in regulatory processes, in quasi-judicial regulatory processes, and in the market- it sends an unbelievable signal.”
She elaborated on the profound effects of that approach in a direct statement to the press.
“Imagine if Northern Gateway had been built? Had been constructed today? That would have been 525,000 barrels a day of additional capacity. We would not be in curtailment. We would have had projects go forward. It wouldn’t have sent a signal to the world that Ottawa interferes. So, I think it’s not just the last seven days.”
Minister Savage traced a litany of missteps made by the administration.
“It goes back to the Prime Minister. Very early in his mandate he went to Europe and announced to the world that he wanted Canada to be known for its resourcefulness, not its resources. Shortly after that he said he wanted to phase out the oil sands. Then he killed Northern Gateway. Then he brought in Bill C-69. You want to talk about trying to bring back investment? Try to get through that piece of legislation. Try to get a project through that process. Try to get Investors to take a look at that process and think that they are going to risk their capital trying to get through it. So, Canada needs to take a very serious step back and take a look at some of its policies. I don’t think Ottawa has the slightest clue of what they have done to competitiveness and what they have done to investment. They have to do a very, very serious course change.”
The National Coalition of Chiefs Energy and Natural Resources Summit continues today with more discussion and speakers Dale Swampy, NCC President, Suncor President and CEO Mark Little, Haida Chief Roy Jones , W. Brett Wilson and more. Details at- https://coalitionofchiefs.ca/conference/