HICKS ON BIZ Alberta's oil and gas industry faced with contradiction BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, JULY 07, 2017
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who’s on first? What’s on second?
Are you not perplexed when thinking about Alberta’s oil and gas industry? How many contradictions can we come up with? How many differing “expert” opinions can be expressed about environmental impact, world oil demand, and the future of gasoline/diesel-fueled transport?
WORLD DEMAND FOR OIL
The media is flooded with stories about the impending electrification of automobile engines. Volvo made headlines by announcing every vehicle it makes after 2019 will be either hybrid gas/electric powered or all-electric. Tesla’s every move is a front-page story.
At the same time, world demand for oil has gone from 80 million barrels a day in 2010 to an expected 100 million barrels a day in 2018.
Who’s on first?
The overall world outlook for oil suggests a moderating of the year-over-year growth in demand for oil/natural gas, but certainly not a serious slowdown or decline in demand.
Meanwhile, the United States, for the first time, is becoming a significant oil exporter.
WHY THE HATRED FOR CLEAN FOSSIL FUELS?
There’s no secret here. Everybody knows Alberta’s oil and gas — from extraction through processing to consumption — is greener than ever. In fact, greenhouse gas reduction targets can easily be met without taxpayer subsidization, in Alberta’s case from the carbon tax.
New technology, for instance, will reduce Cenovus’s oil sands greenhouse gas emissions by 33% come 2018. Which didn’t get quite the media attention as Volvo’s electrification manifesto.
NEW DEMOCRAT IRRATIONALITY
Alberta’s New Democrat government loves oilsands royalties, but doesn’t want Alberta to burn its own abundant and ever-greening fossil fuels. It will spend billions of taxpayer dollars (from the carbon tax) subsidizing big expensive wind-and-solar power farms to generate electricity, when, in fact, new environmental standards could easily be met by switching power generation from coal to natural gas at no cost to the taxpayer.
Quote of the week goes to David Yager, writing in Oilweek magazine: “If people in the battered oilfield services industry thought the last two and a half years were awful, the future is worse. Except in Alberta, where maybe you get one of those government jobs installing efficient light bulbs or low-volume shower heads ...”
NEW DEMOCRAT CONFUSION
Let’s see, the federal New Democrat leadership candidates are all opposed to the building of new pipelines, period. The new B.C. New Democrat/Green Party governing coalition is rabidly anti-pipeline, no matter the economic loss.
Alberta’s New Democrats are opposed to burning (clean) fossil fuels in Alberta, but are all for building or expanding pipelines across British Columbia so our oil and natural gas can be burned in China or India.
What’s on second?
A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT CAN BE HELPFUL
The good news – for every one employed in Alberta’s oil and gas industry – is that the new American administration has given the go-ahead to build the
Keystone XL pipeline that will carry 800,000 barrels a day of Alberta-produced heavy oil through the American mid-west to Louisiana and Texas oil refineries.
The current oil-transport pipeline system is perilously close to 100% capacity. The Keystone XL pipeline will give our industry some breathing room.
BRITISH COLUMBIA IRRATIONALITY
Albertans do suffer from lake envy. But super-natural British Columbia’s wealth – other than tourism and high-tech - comes from natural resource extraction in the B.C. interior, mostly forestry and natural gas.
B.C. residents have so successfully stymied the building of new pipelines, the movement of ocean tankers and LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants that you have to wonder where on earth they think the money will come from to maintain their current standard of living.
Smart jurisdictions find a careful balance between economic growth and honouring Mother Nature.
They don’t just drive industry away.
Would an Alberta government dare to impose a provincial sales tax to balance its budgets, then put all future oil/gas royalties (if the price of oil/gas ever recovered) into re-building the Heritage Trust Fund.
Could the trust fund be replenished to the point of replacing non-renewable energy royalties with investment returns?
Is it too late to copy the success of Alaska and Norway with their oil royalty trust funds??