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Canadian Energy Centre

New national campaign aims to solve worker shortage in Canada’s energy sector


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Donovan Doll works on a pipe at the CMR Fabricators Ltd. in Penhold, Alberta. Canadian Energy Centre photo by Dave Chidley

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

Enserva launches new portal to train workers and provide long-term employment opportunities

Canadian energy services association Enserva has launched its solution to solve a worker shortage of more than 3,000 jobs, including labourers, drivers and tradespeople.  

Having spent the better part of two decades working in the world of non-profit groups and think tanks, Enserva CEO Gurpreet Lail was taken aback after hearing about the sector’s labour struggles when she joined in 2021. 

“The perception outside the industry was much different,” says Lail. “This has been an ongoing challenge for a long time and our members decided to do something about it.” 

The result is a national campaign featuring the new Working Energy Portal, a sector-specific website with comprehensive job listings by the group’s 200-plus member companies and organizations. 

“This is an industry-wide challenge and we’ve found an industry solution,” Lail says.  

“We lost a lot of people during COVID and the downturn in energy prices and we’re now seeing employers fighting for labour regardless of the sector, be it energy or hospitality or technology,” she says.  

“In addition to these factors, our sector also has to address this ridiculous idea that Canadian energy is a dying industry. That’s simply not the case. The world is going to need our energy for a very long time, and we need talented people to help us innovate and produce it responsibly.” 

Enserva is hoping to connect those looking for jobs with companies that need positions filled and create a long-term solution to the shortage. 

But the portal is more than a job board. It will also serve as a training hub to provide Canadians with the right certifications, courses and a pathway to rewarding careers.    

“A lot of this is about educating people about what they might need so they can be successful in the industry, such as getting the right training and certificates,” says Lail.  

“Many prospective employers are willing to help prospective employees in order to address their needs for skilled workers. For example, if you have a clean Class 5 driver’s license, some employers who need Class 1 drivers will pay for that training.”

She says that as the energy industry continues to transform to include a mix of oil and gas and renewable sources, it needs to fill current and emerging positions in practices like artificial intelligence, robotics, geothermal energy and environmental sustainability.  

Enserva members helped create the portal in part because traditional job-search platforms didn’t always attract the right candidates or missed job seekers with real potential.  

Companies were using websites such as Indeed or LinkedIn but were finding it difficult to get the right candidates. Theyd often get more than 1,000 resumes and maybe five to 10 were suitable for interview. It takes a lot of time to sift through those,” Lail says.  

We are supporting our members to create or increase awareness of their companies, and the jobs available. This way promising candidates will not miss a great opportunity and will have opportunities to learn more about energy companies.” 

Enserva aims to push into new areas and communities to engage with prospective job seekers.  

“We are reaching out to non-traditional areas to showcase the reality that you can have a long-term and rewarding career in this sector if you are a woman, Indigenous or come from a newer community in Canada,” Lail says.  

“In addition to this outreach, we are continuing to recruit in traditional areas, such as young people entering the workforce and attracting former energy workers back into the sector.” 

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Canadian Energy Centre

Trans Mountain completion shows victory of good faith Indigenous consultation

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Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Joseph Quesnel

‘Now that the Trans Mountain expansion is finally completed, it will provide trans-generational benefits to First Nations involved’

While many are celebrating the completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project for its benefit of delivering better prices for Canadian energy to international markets, it’s important to reflect on how the project demonstrates successful economic reconciliation with Indigenous communities.

It’s easy to forget how we got here.

The history of Trans Mountain has been fraught with obstacles and delays that could have killed the project, but it survived. This stands in contrast to other pipelines such as Energy East and Keystone XL.

Starting in 2012, proponent Kinder Morgan Canada engaged in consultation with multiple parties – including many First Nation and Métis communities – on potential project impacts.

According to Trans Mountain, there have been 73,000 points of contact with Indigenous communities throughout Alberta and British Columbia as the expansion was developed and constructed. The new federal government owners of the pipeline committed to ongoing consultation during early construction and operations phase.

Beyond formal Indigenous engagement, the project proponent conducted numerous environmental and engineering field studies. These included studies drawing on deep Indigenous input, such as traditional ecological knowledge studies, traditional land use studies, and traditional marine land use studies.

At each stage of consultation, the proponent had to take into consideration this input, and if necessary – which occurred regularly – adjust the pipeline route or change an approach.

With such a large undertaking, Kinder Morgan and later Trans Mountain Corporation as a government entity had to maintain relationships with many Indigenous parties and make sure they got it right.

Trans Mountain participates in a cultural ceremony with the Shxw’ōwhámél First Nation near Hope, B.C. Photograph courtesy Trans Mountain

It was the opposite of the superficial “checklist” form of consultation that companies had long been criticized for.

While most of the First Nation and Métis communities engaged in good faith with Kinder Morgan, and later the federal government, and wanted to maximize environmental protections and ensure they got the best deal for their communities, environmentalist opponents wanted to kill the project outright from the start.

After the government took over the incomplete expansion in 2018, green activists were transparent about using cost overruns as a tactic to scuttle and defeat the project. They tried to make Trans Mountain ground zero for their anti-energy divestment crusade, targeting investors.

It is an amazing testament to importance of Trans Mountain that it survived this bad faith onslaught.

In true eco-colonialist fashion, the non-Indigenous activist community did not care that the consultation process for Trans Mountain project was achieving economic reconciliation in front of their eyes. They were “fair weather friends” who supported Indigenous communities only when they opposed energy projects.

They missed the broad support for the Trans Mountain expansion. As of March 2023, the project had signed agreements with 81 Indigenous communities along the proposed route worth $657 million, and the project has created over $4.8 billion in contracts with Indigenous businesses.

Most importantly, Trans Mountain saw the maturing of Indigenous capital as Indigenous coalitions came together to seek equity stakes in the pipeline. Project Reconciliation, the Alberta-based Iron Coalition and B.C.’s Western Indigenous Pipeline Group all presented detailed proposals to assume ownership.

Although these equity proposals have not yet resulted in a sale agreement, they involved taking that important first step. Trans Mountain showed what was possible for Indigenous ownership, and now with more growth and perhaps legislative help from provincial and federal governments, an Indigenous consortium will be eventually successful when the government looks to sell the project.

If an Indigenous partner ultimately acquires an equity stake in Trans Mountain, observers close to the negotiations are convinced it will be a sizeable stake, well beyond 10 per cent. It will be a transformative venture for many First Nations involved.

Now that the Trans Mountain expansion is finally completed, it will provide trans-generational benefits to First Nations involved, including lasting work for Indigenous companies. It will also demonstrate the victory of good faith Indigenous consultation over bad faith opposition.

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Game changer: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion complete and starting to flow Canada’s oil to the world

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Workers complete the “golden weld” of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on April 11, 2024 in the Fraser Valley between Hope and Chilliwack, B.C. The project saw mechanical completion on April 30, 2024. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

‘We’re going to be moving into a market where buyers are going to be competing to buy Canadian oil’

It is a game changer for Canada that will have ripple effects around the world.  

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is now complete. And for the first time, global customers can access large volumes of Canadian oil, with the benefits flowing to Canada’s economy and Indigenous communities.  

“We’re going to be moving into a market where buyers are going to be competing to buy Canadian oil,” BMO Capital Markets director Randy Ollenberger said recently, adding this is expected to result in a better price for Canadian oil relative to other global benchmarks. 

The long-awaited expansion nearly triples capacity on the Trans Mountain system from Edmonton to the West Coast to approximately 890,000 barrels per day. Customers for the first shipments include refiners in China,  California and India, according to media reports.  

Shippers include all six members of the Pathways Alliance, a group of companies representing 95 per cent of oil sands production that together plan to reduce emissions from operations by 22 megatonnes by 2030 on the way to net zero by 2050.  

The first tanker shipment from Trans Mountain’s expanded Westridge Marine Terminal is expected later in May.

Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

 The new capacity on the Trans Mountain system comes as demand for Canadian oil from markets outside the United States is on the rise.  

According to the Canada Energy Regulator, exports to destinations beyond the U.S. have averaged a record 267,000 barrels per day so far this year, up from about 130,000 barrels per day in 2020 and 33,000 barrels per day in 2017. 

“Oil demand globally continues to go up,” said Phil Skolnick, New York-based oil market analyst with Eight Capital.  

“Both India and China are looking to add millions of barrels a day of refining capacity through 2030.” 

In India, refining demand will increase mainly for so-called medium and heavy oil like what is produced in Canada, he said. 

“That’s where TMX is the opportunity for Canada, because that’s the route to get to India.”  

Led by India and China, oil demand in the Asia-Pacific region is projected to increase from 36 million barrels per day in 2022 to 52 million barrels per day in 2050, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

More oil coming from Canada will shake up markets for similar world oil streams including from Russia, Ecuador, and Iraq, according to analysts with Rystad Energy and Argus Media. 

Expanded exports are expected to improve pricing for Canadian heavy oil, which “have been depressed for many years” in part due to pipeline shortages, according to TD Economics.  

Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

 In recent years, the price for oil benchmark Western Canadian Select (WCS) has hovered between $18-$20 lower than West Texas Intermediate (WTI) “to reflect these hurdles,” analyst Marc Ercolao wrote in March 

“That spread should narrow as a result of the Trans Mountain completion,” he wrote. 

“Looking forward, WCS prices could conservatively close the spread by $3–4/barrel later this year, which will incentivize production and support industry profitability.”  

Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office has said that an increase of US$5 per barrel for Canadian heavy oil would add $6 billion to Canada’s economy over the course of one year. 

The Trans Mountain Expansion will leave a lasting economic legacy, according to an impact assessment conducted by Ernst & Young in March 2023.  

In addition to $4.9 billion in contracts with Indigenous businesses during construction, the project leaves behind more than $650 million in benefit agreements and $1.2 billion in skills training with Indigenous communities.   

Ernst & Young found that between 2024 and 2043, the expanded Trans Mountain system will pay $3.7 billion in wages, generate $9.2 billion in GDP, and pay $2.8 billion in government taxes. 

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