Dear Gordon Laxer,
I am writing in response to your article entitled, “Don’t waste any more money on the Trans Mountain pipeline” published in “The Toronto Star” on June 1, 2019.
Thank you for writing your article and providing information on the oil and gas sector. I am taking this opportunity to open the door to a constructive, respectful conversation about Canadian energy, particularly oil and gas. I hope that you’ll take this opportunity to engage with me too as a fellow Albertan. Although, your article is admittedly a bit traitorous, in my humble opinion, but let’s give this a go.
I am a proud female oil and gas employee, working for an Alberta-based natural gas producer. Working in oil and gas has given me many opportunities for growth, development, learning and advancement. The industry is willing to reward people who work hard. However, it has to be earned; it isn’t given to you.
I think we are both in agreement that the Liberals made a poor decision when they purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline from a private, American-based company using tax-payer money. We may, however, diverge on the reasons why we think it was a poor decision.
As you stated, presently, Canadian oil and gas is exported to one customer – the USA. They have a lot of control over the price we receive, so they purchase our products at a steep discount, which results in lost revenue for all Canadians. This makes our lives less affordable because we don’t have government revenues to support our world-class programs, such as health care and education. Access to different markets is critical to ensuring that we get full value for our products, and that is why Trans Mountain is in the national interest and should be built without any delay.
Simply put, you are inaccurate in stating that there is no market for Canadian oil that will be shipped through Trans Mountain. That’s simply not true. The world wants access to more energy. The world needs more Canadian oil and gas.
You are accurate that the oil and gas produced in the USA is cheaper. That is in large part due to their less stringent regulatory and environmental rules. Unlike the USA, Canada has the highest standards for oil and gas production in the world, and that costs companies money. It’s imperative that we find a balance between environmental responsibility and progress. Oil and gas companies and the people who work for them care about the environment.
The US does not necessarily produce lower emissions oil. It’s a complex topic that requires a lot more research on your part. The industry is not perfect. We recognize this, but we try very hard to keep innovating and improving, and we often succeed at being the best in the world. The Canadian oil and gas sector’s commitment to R&D and innovation has decreased emissions by 1/3 on a per barrel basis in the oil sands since 2004. For example, the GHG intensity per barrel produced from Cenovus Energy’s Christina Lake assets is lower than an average barrel of oil produced in the USA. And Cenovus is working on technology that could further reduce emissions by another 1/3. That’s pretty remarkable, but by no means unique. The entire Canadian industry is continually striving for improvements.
There is a serious misconception that a majority of Canadians are opposed to pipelines and Canadian energy development. That is simply false. That’s a narrative that is damaging and misleading, and it’s fracturing our national unity. Articles like yours are contributing to the discord. A recent survey conducted in February 2019 by Research Co. showed 79% of Canadians expressed support for resource development in our country. A survey conducted by Abacus Data in September 2018 showed 7 in 10 (70%) Canadians support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. A small minority is opposed to development, but many of them are foreign-based organizations who have no direct impact from the projects.
There’s a pervasive misconception being spread that Indigenous groups do not support oil and gas development in Canada. That’s simply not true. There are 26 oil-producing First Nations in Western Canada, and they support energy development because they benefit from royalties and employment opportunities. Indigenous employment is 7.8% in extractive industries compared to the federal government where it is only 4.7% and only 3.9% in all other industries. The oil and gas sector is doing more for reconciliation than the federal government. It’s not enough to say you support reconciliation, you have to show that you support it, and the oil and gas sector is doing just that through their actions.
Canada ranks higher than any of the top 10 oil exporting nations in the world on:
Environmental Performance Index (#25)
Women, Peace & Security Index (#7)
Democracy Index (#6)
Social Progress Index (#14)
Press Freedom Index (#18)
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to get my oil and gas from a country with the highest ethical and environmental standards in the world, and I’m fortunate to get to call that country home – Canada.
Canada currently has a reputation on the world stage for not being able to get things done. Through balanced, honest reporting from you and the Toronto Star, we can change people’s perceptions and become a country that can develop our resources responsibly and sustainably and be a world leader once again.