Every Canadian teacher could do this country a huge favour by listening to most of a 36-minute podcast from the Arc Energy Research Institute.
Entitled “An Interview with Steve Laut”, and found on the internet at https://www.arcenergyinstitute.com/canadian-natural-resources-an-interview-with-steve-laut/, the podcast is a conversation between Canadian National Resources’ (CNRL) executive vice-chairman Laut and Calgary-based Arc Energy analysts Peter Tertzakian and Jackie Forrest.
Tertzakian and Forrest are two of the most knowledgeable and best communicators/analysts in Canada’s energy sector.
Laut, who heads up CNRL, is arguably the most influential executive in Canadian oil and gas.
Under Laut’s stewardship, CNRL has grown from a junior oil company to Canada’s largest oil and gas producer, to the eighth-largest (by production) non-national oil company in the world.
In clear, easily understood language, Laut, Tertzakian and Forrest present the best case I’ve heard to date, that Canadian oil and gas — especially the oil sands — is not a threat to global warming, but a crucial part of the solution.
Here’s why, in three, well-presented facts.
- Canada has led the world in lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our oil and gas production. Through the past 10 years of research and technological improvements, GHG emissions from the oil sands have dropped by half. CNRL’s goal, says Laut, is to be emissions-free in all its oilsands operations. “We haven’t set a timeline yet, but it’s do-able, and it’s something all Canadians can be proud of,” he says. “Canadian ingenuity is profoundly reducing emissions intensity.”
- Global CO2 emissions would drop if low-emission Canadian oil and gas exports could be shipped overseas (and to Eastern Canada), replacing “dirty” oil from countries without Canada’s high emission standards. For instance, if all oil-producing countries in the world followed Canada’s strict flaring (burning off unwanted gases) regulations, Laut suggests the global reduction in GHG gases would be equivalent to taking 100 million vehicles off the road.
- The fastest, most practical way to lower global warming is for countries like Canada to export as much low-emission natural gas overseas as possible, replacing high-emission coal in emerging countries like China and India. “We need to get inexpensive natural gas across the water to those people who really need affordable energy,” says Laut.
Opponents of carbon-based energy, says Tertzakian, base their anti-“tarsands” arguments on out-dated data collected in 2009.
In the interim, huge environmental strides have been made.
Up until 2013-14, oilsand companies were fixated on getting hugely expensive plants built on time and on budget. “Now those plants are built,” says Laut. “Now we are concentrating on lowering GHG emissions, using less water, optimizing efficiencies, lowering our operating costs.”
The oilsands are high-tech. Multiple new technologies discovered through laboratory research are now being incorporated into oilsand industrial processes.
Carbon capture has slipped off the media radar, but behind the scenes is making huge strides. Carbon conversion is a new buzz word, i.e. making new products (carbon nano-tubes, specialty fuels) from captured carbon. “Carbon dioxide and oxygen are not scary molecules,” says Laut. “These are easily solvable chemistry challenges.”
Why would I ask teachers, in particular, to listen to this podcast?
Because teachers have the supreme responsibility of shaping and influencing how young Canadians think … and to date, most of the information being delivered to educators about climate warming is coming from environmental groups who — jobs and economy be damned — take the extreme view that all fossil-fuel burning must end in order to save the world.
No matter the scientific evidence, changing such attitudes, Laut says, is akin to die-hard Edmonton Oilers fans shifting their allegiance to the Calgary Flames.
I only wish such reasonable commentary and analysis could be as widely disseminated to all Canadians as David Suzuki’s hysterics.
Listening to this podcast should only take 20 to 25 minutes of your time. The last third of the interview is about topics of interest to the oil/gas community, not so much to the general public.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s oil-advocacy “war room” could make good use of its dollars by sending Laut, Tertazian and Forrest out on an extensive speaking tour across Canada, to schools, universities, social media outlets, editorial boards, environmental groups, conservationists.
Perhaps the militant environmentalists will protest and disrupt such meetings.
Good! Media attention is the name of the game.
Whatever it takes, let us tell whoever will listen, that the fight against global warming needs more, not less, of the Canadian way.