I’m doing my best not to be ultra-cynical.
But put yourself in the position of a major petrochemical/energy company CEO, reading the recently released report of the Alberta government-appointed Energy Diversification Advisory Committee. It is entitled, Diversification, Not Decline: Adapting to the new energy reality.
“Really?” the CEO is saying to him or herself as he/she flips the pages.
“Really? The Alberta and Canadian governments have been pummelling my industry since 2015 when the Liberals came to power in Ottawa and the New Democrats in Alberta.
“We (the energy sector) were flattened by the 50% drop in oil prices at the end of 2014. And, ever since, your governments have been kicking us while we’re down – in the stomach, the groin, the head …
“We haven’t got a thing done in Alberta and Canada for three years.
“Not one major pipeline has been built out of Fort McMurray. I can’t move my existing bitumen production out on existing pipelines, they are so full … let alone any future increased production.
“These governments have made “climate leadership”, not the economy, their top priority.
“The Little Prince in Ottawa is infatuated with his social agenda – gender equality, righting the wrongs done to the aboriginal community, being a leader on climate change. Those are good things. But it takes a healthy economy to cover the costs, and Justin hasn’t a clue what makes business tick.
“In Alberta, it’s all the Climate Leadership Plan, to hell with economic consequences.
“Ottawa keeps making pipeline and energy projects more difficult with zealous over-regulation that has everything to do with political gain, very little to do with environmental safety.
“My industry, my company, has made HUGE strides in emission controls, in environmental improvements.
“But it’s never enough. We’re always the bad guys. We create 135,000 well-paying jobs in Alberta, and for this we are scorned. Or, at the very best, simply taken for granted. In 2012, to no avail, a renowned climate researcher concluded burning of all currently recoverable oil sands bitumen “would be almost undetectable at our significance level.”
“As mentioned, in the name of climate change, the Alberta government has been unleashing blow upon blow on our energy industry for three years. Climate-change rhetoric and ideology has made even the discussion of practical win/win solutions quite impossible. Notley and her crew have done their damnedest to push us out of her province!
“And now, suddenly, they want to kissy-kissy, make up?
“After increasing our taxes, increasing regulation, increasing this, that, and everything, they now want my shareholders to invest $5 or $6 billion in a petrochemical plant, $10-billion plus in an upgrader?
“Who are they kidding?
“This government might throw a little money at my company – a couple of hundred million in grants or subsidies – to offset the higher cost of construction in Alberta compared to other location choices around the world.
“But I have no idea what other roadblocks Canada, Alberta and B.C. could throw in my face.
“They haven’t got pipelines, just empty promises, conditional on approval from every anti-fossil-fuel organization in the country!
“I could not hire staff on ability alone, I would have to hire on ability AND gender/ethnic quotas, and still pay top dollar. My plant would be carbon-constrained to begin with.
“And why would I build in Alberta, when I can’t get my products to those countries (in Asia) where I can get my best price?
“You Canadians are so mired in regulations and environmental impasse that you haven’t a single LNG (liquified natural gas) port approved, or even in design stages! You are so far behind Australia, the USA and other resource-exporting countries that it’s laughable. If I build a petrochemical plant that strips out speciality gases, where will you sell/ship the 90 per cent remaining natural gas? On what pipeline?
“It seems to have dawned on this Alberta government that something ought to be done (other than build wind farms with taxpayers’ money) before my industry completely abandons Alberta because it’s just too difficult to run a proper business, pay taxes, and still make a profit for my shareholders.
“But this horse has long left the stable.
“My company’s five-year business plan calls for another petrochemical plant/refinery/upgrader to be built, somewhere around the Pacific Rim for the ever-growing Asian market.
“Where should I build?
“The USA is now bending over backwards to attract my business. It has lowered its corporate taxes. I have no shipping problems with plenty of pipeline capacity and LNG ports. And if I don’t build in the USA, I may be face a big tariff wall to get into the USA.
“The Saudis are offering incredible deals as they seek to diversify their economy.
“The Chinese, the Indians, the Indonesians, the Japanese, the Filipinos … they are all bidding for my business!
“Yet you really think, with all the costs and uncertainties and official anti-fossil fuel sentiment in Alberta, the lack of pipelines, the hatred for my industry in B.C., and a disinterested federal government, that I would choose Alberta, Canada over a dozen other competing jurisdictions for my next big industrial project?
“Who’s kidding who?”