Canada holds the position of the 4th largest proven oil reserves in the world. Last year, Canada imported $17.36 billion dollars worth of crude oil, of which $3.38 billion came from Saudi Arabia. Now, you might be asking yourself: why are we importing so much oil? The cause is the quality of Western Canadian Select, not nearly the same as Saudi Arabian oil. What is coming out of the Alberta oil sands is principally a very thick, tar-like substance, one that can only be processed by the few refineries which happen to be on our east coast. There are no refineries in Western Canada which can process WCS and thus, the product must be moved through a pipeline to refineries in eastern Canada. However, at this time, Canada lacks many of these pipelines. There have been proposals to build them the past few years, but they have been shut down by the current Liberal government.
There are two principal arguments when it comes to those against pipelines: the climate argument and the indigenous argument. However, according to Environment and Natural Resources Canada, Canada makes up just 1.6% of global GHG emissions. It is noted by many economists and businessmen as well as exports in the oil industry that the refusal to build pipelines has virtually no effect on the environment, due to Canada making up such a small percentage of global emissions. In addition, according to Trans Mountain, “43 Indigenous groups have signed agreements in support of the Trans Mountain expansion project.” The MEG energy corporation released statistics a few years ago, noting that, “in 2015 and 2016 the oil sands invested $48.6 million in community initiatives in indigenous communities. The participation rate of indigenous people is twice as high in the energy sector compared to the total Canadian labour force. The oil sands spent over $7 billion doing business with indigenous owned companies from 2013 to 2016.”
According to Natural Resources Canada, “the oil sands account for 9.9% of Canada’s total GHG emissions and 0.1% of global emissions.” The reality is further environmental red tape on the regulations we already have bear virtually no effect on global emissions. “We think we’re saving the planet, we’re delusional,” said Brett Wilson, a Canadian investment banker.
The statistics and facts support one side, and that side is pro-pipeline. According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, “If we replaced 100% of oil imports coming to Canada we would reduce emissions by 6.2%.” In 2016, Canadian oil and gas pipelines maintained their 99.999 percent incident-free safety record, according to data from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA).
Comparing the world’s top 10 oil exporters, data from the World Economic Forum:
The question is: do you helping governments that value the environment, women’s rights, peace and security, the rule of law, and global responsibility? If you do, the data overwhelmingly supports the argument for expanding Canada’s oil in the global market and reducing the import of foreign oil. The way to do this? Build more pipelines to expand the access of Alberta crude oil. In the data, Saudi Arabia ranks significantly lower than Canada in all these major global Indexes, so why are we still buying oil from them and promoting the economy of a country that has no rule of law, where women were punished and prohibited from driving up until 2018 and homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment or death?
The reality is that tens of thousands of Canadians are out of work due to this government’s policies. These are well-paying jobs. Canada’s environmental standards are among the best in the world. According to Tim McKay, the President of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., “if Canadian standards were recognized and applied worldwide, the amount of GHG emissions from producing a barrel of oil would fall by 23%, the equivalent of removing about 100 million cars from the road.” He also stated that “natural gas from 1 B.C. LNG plant could displace up to 40 coal-fired power plants in Asia, reducing global GHG emissions by 60 to 90 million tonnes of CO2 annually. This amount is greater than B.C.’s total emissions per annum and roughly 10% of Canada’s GHG emissions per annum.”
Canada’s business climate is volatile. Bloomberg reported last year that foreign direct investment in the Canadian oil and gas industry fell 27%. The same can be seen throughout Canadian markets, but the Canadian natural resources sector is particularly worrying. “$100 billion dollars in energy projects have been cancelled because of Justin Trudeau,” said Shannon Stubbs, Conservative MP. “ Justin Trudeau killed North Gateway outright, he killed Energy East, and he utterly failed to get the Trans-Mountain expansion built.” Justin Trudeau has decided against building pipelines on several occasions, failing to develop Canada’s oil industry and broadening the market for Canadian oil. In 2018, according to the Fraser Institute, Alberta, the largest provincial exporter of oil in the country, ranked 43rd in terms of attractive jurisdictions for oil and gas investment. U.S. states took all top 5 ranks, while Angola, which ranks 135th on the Social Progress Index 2018, ranked 6 spots ahead of Canada (Canada ranks 14th on the same Index).
Bill C-48, a bill implemented by the Liberal government, is another bill that impedes Canada’s oil from reaching global markets. The damaging bill “prohibits oil tankers that are carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of crude oil or persistent oil as cargo from stopping, or unloading crude oil or persistent oil, at ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border. The Act prohibits loading if it would result in the oil tanker carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of those oils as cargo.” Canada’s West Coast is the only coastline in the world with a tanker ban in place. Oil tankers have been consistently and safely moving across the globe for dozens of years. Thousands of oil tankers go from port to port around the world without incidence every single day. In over 60 years of loading ships in Vancouver, Trans Mountain has had 0 spills from oil tanker operations, according to Canada Action.
Justin Trudeau’s famous “price on pollution” (it’s a carbon tax) is one initiative he believes will reduce GHG emissions and help fight climate change. As previously stated, the Canadian energy sector emits only 0.1% of global emissions. As one of the top ten oil exporters in the world, Canada is the only country to have proposed carbon pricing. This would further the detriment to our oil and gas sector, and make it impossible for ethical and environmentally responsible Canadian companies to increase the export of their energy products.
While I do believe Canada’s natural resources should be promoted in our society, I do not believe that humans do not have a moral obligation to promote and preserve the health of our planet. Again, as Tim McKay, the President of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said, “if Canadian standards were recognized and applied worldwide, the amount of GHG emissions from producing a barrel of oil would fall by 23%, the equivalent of removing about 100 million cars from the road.” I believe other countries have a greater obligation, as statistically, they pollute more and their oil is extracted and refined in a less sustainable way than ours. However, Canada should not be exempt from any action on preserving our planet because of our environmental standards, but instead, they must maintain a firm stance against countries who pollute in far greater quantities than we do. In the long term, I think it is our responsibility to continue finding the most efficient and ethical ways of producing energy.
A 2018 Financial Post article stated, “Lack of pipelines and massive discounts for Canadian heavy oil could cost the economy $15.6 billion this year, or three-fourths of a point from the country’s GDP, according to economists at Scotiabank.” If Justin Trudeau values economic growth and the promotion and prosperity of Canadian export industries, he will reverse his decisions on the pipelines he has failed to build.
I am a Canadian. And I support our oil and gas sector.