Tapping into Canada’s gas and oil resources while we can

by Derek Clouthier

So, there was a truck convoy that drove from Red Deer to Ottawa to show support for Canada’s (or should I say, Alberta’s) oil and gas industry.

I’m torn on whether to call the oil and gas industry Canada’s or Alberta’s. On one hand, Alberta holds 98% of the country’s oil and gas reserves. On the other, every province benefits from Alberta’s energy sector, with some, like Quebec, receiving billions in equalization payments.

Since moving to Alberta in 2002, I’ve come to believe a couple of things when it comes to how the Wild Rose province is viewed by a sizable portion of Canadians. Aside from some thinking the entire province is a barren wasteland, littered with frigid temperatures, flat land, and tar sands, many simply don’t like Alberta because of its energy riches.

The construction of another pipeline has not lessened the distaste many people have for Alberta. I guess there are people out there (I’m looking at you, Neil Young) who genuinely believe that if we just stop producing fossil fuels, vehicle manufacturers will end production of the combustible engine in exchange for electric vehicles.

One day, I am hopeful this will be the case – I also hope our power grid can handle having the world’s approximate 1.4 billion vehicles plugged in every night. To make a meaningful environmental impact, the change to electric vehicles would need to be a worldwide effort, not just North America and Europe. China, for example, has about 310 million registered vehicles on its roads.

The reality of 2019 is that we are not removing traditional gas- and diesel-powered vehicles from our roads, as difficult a pill as that is to swallow for many who despise the oil and gas sector.

Believe me, I’m not always a fan either. I’ve always wondered how the price of gas can jump 20 cents overnight (which it did where I live in early January going from 84.9 cents/liter one day to $1.05 the next), yet it never drops in price that drastically, but rather trickles down at a snail’s pace.

If people want to see real movement on electric vehicle technology – which has progressed quite a bit in the last decade – they need to look at what incentives governments provide OEMs to put time and energy into such a venture.

With more than 840,000km of pipeline currently under our feet in Canada, the pushback on any new pipeline project is always interesting.

Unless, of course, you understand the “not in my backyard” mentality. If you look at a map of current pipelines in Canada, Alberta looks like it has a bad case of varicose veins – pipelines stretching throughout the province like a spider web.

The Northern Gateway pipeline project looks to run from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. Then there is the Energy East pipeline, adding to an existing pipeline to bring oil and gas from Alberta to Eastern Canada.

Many people who oppose these new pipelines do so while driving their gas- or diesel-powered vehicles. They are quite content driving to work or a friend’s, drinking coffee and listening to the morning news as long as they live in an area free of pipelines.

Should pipelines be strictly regulated by a third-party entity to ensure safety measures are adhered to? Of course. Should OEMs be spending quality time on the development of electric vehicle technology? Of course. Should Canada benefit from a product that is universally used around the world before it becomes obsolete?

Of course.

I think that’s the message the truck convoy is trying to get across to a government that is supposed to represent all Canadians.

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