An energy lobby group has published its vision of the future that they hope everyone can embrace. Promising to deliver “global climate leadership”, they conclude “We can be the world’s energy of tomorrow”.
Most people would probably pause and stop at this point and think this is someone from Tesla speaking or a solar manufacturer talking about the exponential growth of renewables.
But they would be wrong. The vision is from CAPP, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the lobbyists for the dirty tar sands. Outlining their vision in a new report, Tim McMillan, the group’s president, argues that CAPP “represents an energy industry that is looking to the future – one that values sustainable development practices and lower-carbon processes.”
He added: “We can satisfy the world’s demand for energy but to do so we need to work collectively to create an ambitious plan for the future.”
This “ambitious plan” was reported by the National Observer as “Canada’s main oil and gas lobby group has a vision for the country — and it involves getting foreign nations hooked on more and more Canadian fossil fuels.”
Speaking at a press conference yesterday to launch the report, McMillan said: “We know we live in a growing world that is going to need more energy, and we know that Canada has [oil and gas] reserves and can be an increased supplier.”
He added in comments that would raise an eyebrow amongst critics of the tar sands: “As an environmentally responsible person, I want to see Canada stepping in to be that supplier, not Nigeria or Iran.”
But he was not finished. He then went on to add that he felt it was “irresponsible” for the Canadian governments to forge policies “based on a world that has less oil and gas.”
Many people concerned about climate change or air pollution would find McMillan’s comments pretty absurd. As the world struggles to decarbonise as quickly as possible, the lobbyist for one of the dirtiest forms of oil says it is irresponsible to plan for a world for less oil and gas. I suppose you could argue that “ he would say that, anyway”.
But there is another huge hole in his argument. The market for dirty tar sands oil is declining, not growing: A recent article in the Tyee, is sub-titled “There is no waiting Asian market for oilsands crude. In fact there’s no waiting market anywhere”.
The article states that: “the bottom has already fallen out of many bitumen projects, yet they stagger on, animated solely by political and economic inertia”.
Take the supposed hungry oil markets of Asia. The Tyee adds: “Canadians are often told the Trans Mountain pipeline project is imperative to access Asian markets anxious to buy Alberta bitumen”, however “The market seems to have decided that shipping diluted bitumen across the Pacific Ocean is a money loser.”
Indeed, Bloomberg notes in an article on the same subject, that “Canada’s energy companies can’t get any love, even from many Canadians”.
Bloomberg added: “With pipeline, regulatory and political frustrations reaching new heights, the nation’s energy stocks slumped to their lowest level in almost two years this month.” Indeed, investors pulled $56 million from Canadian energy stocks over the last year.
One fund manager, Geof Marshall, who controls $40 billion of assets at CI Investments’ Signature Global Asset Management in Toronto told Bloomberg that “I’m inclined to believe that we don’t see another oil-sands project built.”
So when Tim McMillan from CAPP says that “Together we can provide the world with the energy of tomorrow,” many will dismiss it a wishful thinking of a blinkered lobbyist who represents a bygone age.