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Alberta

The Provincial Government’s 2018 report card on its “made-in-Alberta” energy strategy

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From the Province of Alberta

Made-in-Alberta plan protects energy jobs

This year, the province fought to get top dollar for our energy resources by launching a made-in-Alberta strategy to build new pipelines and add value by upgrading more of our oil and gas here at home.

Premier Rachel Notley and her government fought to protect workers and the Canadian economy by taking action in the short, medium and long term.

“For decades, Albertans have been talking about getting more value for our oil here at home. It’s time to stop settling for less. We’re grabbing the bull by the horns with a made-in-Alberta strategy to create more jobs, open new markets for our oil and gas, and make more of the energy products the world needs.”

Rachel Notley, Premier

Major boost to energy upgrading

In the long term, the province doubled support for petrochemical upgrading to $2.1 billion, which will leverage private investment that’s expected to help create about 15,000 jobs.

Alberta also created a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) investment team to work directly with industry on reducing barriers for securing final investment decisions on export projects that will increase the value of Alberta’s natural gas resources.

In response to strong industry encouragement, Alberta is taking action to explore private-sector interest in building a new oil refinery in the province. Building new refining capacity would create good-paying, long-term jobs for Albertans while helping lower the oil price differential over the long term.

“Large industrial value-add energy investments help provide economic resilience and diversification, and create highly skilled, well-paying jobs for decades. Alberta has abundant feedstock, skilled labour and the ability to refine our resources to high-value products the world needs. There is significant international competition for these projects and for Alberta to compete, government and industry must work together. We commend the government’s focus on ensuring that the value of Alberta’s resources stays with Albertans.”

David Chappell, chair, Resource Diversification Council

Fighting for pipelines and market access

The government also continued its fight for new pipelines. Premier Notley’s advocacy was instrumental in the federal government’s decision to purchase the Trans Mountain Pipeline. As well, the Premier continues to fight for needed changes on two federal bills:

  • Bill C-69, which would create a new, far-reaching impact assessment process for resource development projects.
  • Bill C-48, which would impose a moratorium on oil tankers off the north coast of B.C.

This year, the province also launched the nationwide Keep Canada Working campaign to explain to Canadians the benefits of new pipeline access. The latest push includes a real-time lost-revenue counter to show just how much Canadians are missing out on by keeping Alberta’s energy resources landlocked.

“Under Premier Rachel Notley’s leadership, more Canadians than ever before support this project because they know we shouldn’t be selling our products on the cheap. There’s too much at stake. We will keep the federal government’s feet to the fire so that this project isn’t delayed any further.”

Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy

Over the medium term, the government took action to build more capacity for moving oil by rail to clear the backlog and stabilize the market. Upwards of 7,000 new rail cars will come online in 2019 to move 120,000 barrels a day out of the province to markets where Alberta oil can earn the best value possible.

In the short term, Premier Notley protected the value of Alberta’s resources by mandating a temporary reduction in oil production. The decision, in response to a historically high oil price differential, has prevented thousands of job losses and helped restore the value of Alberta’s oil. The price gap is caused by the federal government’s decades-long inability to build pipelines.

Saving industry time and money

A more efficient regulatory process means new oil and gas projects can begin operating faster, creating jobs and maintaining competitiveness. The new process is fairer, faster and more accessible, saving industry hundreds of millions of dollars while making the process more transparent and accessible for Albertans. The new approach is expected to save industry $600 million by 2021, and is helping reduce the regulatory review time for an oil sands project from five years to just 15 months.

Strong energy future in the oil sands

Two major oil sands milestones were also celebrated in 2018. Premier Notley and Minister McCuaig-Boyd joined Suncor for the successful startup of the Fort Hills project, which put 7,900 people to work at the peak of construction and is employing 1,400 people full time now that the project is operational.

The government also highlighted a new $400-million investment in the Long Lake South West project by Nexen, a wholly owned subsidiary of CNOOC Ltd. With leading-edge technology, the project illustrates that a major oil sands producer can be both an energy and environmental leader while showing a long-term commitment to creating good jobs in Alberta’s energy sector.

“The Long Lake South West project demonstrates CNOOC Limited’s long-term commitment to the Alberta energy sector. Our oil sands development is an important component of our global portfolio, and through technological advancements we are pleased to be responsibly growing our production while reducing our overall emissions.”

Quinn Wilson, CEO, CNOOC North America

New jobs, private investment in wind power

Private companies are partnering with First Nations to invest close to $1.2 billion in renewable energy projects in Alberta. This helps create new jobs and continues with record-setting low prices for Albertans. These results showcase Alberta as a proud leader in all forms of energy.

The five successful projects are made possible through the latest phase of the Alberta government’s Renewable Electricity Program. They include investments from homegrown Alberta companies, as well as from new investors from across Canada and around the world.

In total, the new developments will create about 1,000 jobs, attract new economic opportunities for Indigenous communities and bring an estimated $175 million in rural benefits over the life of the projects.

 

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Popular roller-coaster at West Edmonton Mall amusement park to be removed

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Canada’s largest shopping centre says a popular roller-coaster at its amusement park is being removed after nearly 40 years in operation.

West Edmonton Mall’s vice-president of parks and attractions says in a statement that while the Mindbender will be missed, the mall is excited to announce it is working on new plans for the site.

The Mindbender was known as the world’s tallest and longest indoor, triple-loop roller-coaster.

In 1986, three people were killed on the roller-coaster, which forced the mall to shut it down for a year for safety modifications.

Galaxyland initially opened in 1983, but was known as Fantasyland until 1995.

The indoor amusement park partnered with Hasbro in 2022 and features attractions licensed from the franchise.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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Alberta

Qatar, Norway and ‘The Trouble with Canada’

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From the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd 

By David Yager

Resource developers in Canada face unique geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles

That Germany has given up on Canada to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) and instead signed a massive multi-year LNG purchase agreement with Qatar has left many angry and disappointed.  

Investment manager and perennial oil bull Eric Nuttall recently visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia and wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Post titled, “Canada could be as green and wealthy as Qatar and Saudi Arabia if government wakes up – Instead of vilifying the oil and gas sectors, Canada should champion them.” 

Nuttall described how Saudi Arabia and Qatar are investing their enormous energy wealth to make life better for their citizens. This includes decarbonizing future domestic energy supplies and making large investments in infrastructure.   

Nuttall concludes, “Why is it that Qatar, a country that embraced its LNG industry, has nearly three times the number of doctors per capita than Canada? We can do it all: increase our oil and natural gas production, at the highest environmental standards anywhere in the world, thereby allowing us to help meet the world’s needs while benefiting from its revenue and allowing for critical incremental investments in our national infrastructure…This could have been us.” 

The country most often mentioned that Albertans should emulate is Norway. 

Alberta’s Heritage Savings and Trust Fund has been stuck below $20 billion since it was created by Premier Peter Lougheed in 1976.  

Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which started 20 years later in 1996, now sits at US$1.2 trillion. 

How many times have you been told that if Alberta’s politicians weren’t so incompetent, our province would have a much larger nest egg after 47 years?  

After all, Canada and Alberta have gobs of natural gas and oil, just like Qatar and Norway. 

Regrettably, that’s all we have in common.  

That Qatar and Norway’s massive hydrocarbon assets are offshore is a massive advantage that producers in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin will never enjoy. All pipelines are submerged. There are no surface access problems on private property, no municipal property taxes or surface rights payments, and there are no issues with First Nations regarding land claims, treaty rights and constitutional guarantees. 

Being on tidewater is a huge advantage when it comes to market access, greatly reducing operating and transportation costs. 

But it’s more complicated than that, and has been for a long time. In 1990, Olympic athlete and businessman William G. Gairdner wrote a book titled, “The Trouble with Canada – A Citizen Speaks Out.” It takes Gairdner 450 pages to explain how one of the most unique places in the world in terms of resource wealth and personal and economic opportunity was fading fast. 

That was 33 years ago. Nothing has improved. 

As I wrote in my own book about the early days of settlement and development, citizens expected little from their governments and got less. 

Today politics increasingly involves which party will give the most voters the most money.  

The book’s inside front cover reads how Gairdner was concerned that Canada was already “caught between two irreconcilable styles of government, a ‘top down’ collectivism and a ‘bottoms-up individualism;’ he shows how Canadian society has been corrupted by a dangerous love affair with the former.”  

Everything from the constitution to official bilingualism to public health care were identified as the symptoms of a country heading in the wrong direction. 

But Canadian “civil society” often regards these as accomplishments. 

The constitution enshrines a federal structure that ignores representation by population in the Senate thus leaving the underpopulated regions vulnerable to the political desires of central Canada. This prohibited Alberta’s closest access to tidewater for oil through Bill C48. 

Official bilingualism and French cultural protection has morphed into Quebec intentionally blocking Atlantic tidewater access for western Canadian oil and gas.  

In the same country! 

Another election will soon be fought in Alberta over sustaining a mediocre public health care system that continues to slide in international rankings of cost and accessibility. 

What’s remarkable about comparing Canada to Norway or Qatar for missed hydrocarbon export opportunities is how many are convinced that the Canadian way of doing things is equal, if not superior, to that of other countries. 

But neither Norway or Qatar have the geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles that impair resource development in Canada. 

Norway has over 1,000 years of history shared by a relatively homogenous population with similar views on many issues. Norway has a clear sense of its national identity. 

As a country, Canada has only 156 years in its current form and is comprised of Indigenous people and newcomers from all over the world who are still getting to know each other.  

In the endless pursuit of politeness, today’s Canada recognizes multiple nations within its borders.  

Norway and Qatar only have one. 

While relatively new as a country, Qatar is ruled by a “semi-constitutional” monarchy where the major decisions about economic development are made by a handful of people.  

Canada has three layers of elected governments – federal, provincial and municipal – that have turned jurisdictional disputes, excessive regulation, and transferring more of everything to the public sector into an industry.  

Regrettably, saying that Canada should be more like Norway or Qatar without understanding why it can’t be deflects attention away from our challenges and solutions. 

David Yager is an oilfield service executive, oil and gas writer, and energy policy analyst. He is author of  From Miracle to Menace – Alberta, A Carbon Story. 

 

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