Two years ago, Samir Kayande, an Alberta energy consultant turned Calgary NDP candidate, opined that “Hydrocarbon must go away” in an April 2021 opinion column for the CBC.
“There’s no alternative. It’s too polluting,” he writes.
Kayande adds that the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline project came as no surprise, noting its proposal came in 2005 before energy development costs shot up higher than expected and before building major pipeline projects became subject to incredible pushback from environmental activists.
Eighty-two senior energy executives pointed to the uncertainty concerning environmental regulations, disputed land claims, and the cost of regulatory compliance as significant areas of concern in Canadian jurisdictions compared to U.S. states.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents said the uncertainty concerning land claims in Canada discouraged them from investing in energy infrastructure in the country. According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of capital investment in Canada's oil and gas sector as a share of total capital investment plummeted from 28% in 2014 to 10% in 2022.
However, Alberta had an unprecedented increase in non-renewable resource revenues, from $3.1 billion in 2020/21 to $27.5 billion in 2022/23.
“History is again on the march. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, questions about the security of the energy supply are paramount. Europe can’t build enough LNG import terminals or sign enough long-term LNG contracts. Major global competitors, such as China and India, are ramping up coal power to record levels,” writes Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples.
A study by SecondStreet.org found that Canadian energy could offset Russian energy sales if they developed the necessary infrastructure to transport these resources to global markets.
Over the next seven to 10 years, Canada could offset upwards of 59% of Russia's annual natural gas exports and 46% of its crude oil exports, amounting to 7.72 billion cubic feet per day (BCF/D) and 1.85 million barrels per day (BPD), respectively.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, many observers noted that the Kremlin's natural gas and oil exports funded the tanks and rockets, inflicting death, pain and suffering on the Ukrainian people.
According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), oil and gas revenues comprised approximately 45% of Russia's federal budget in 2021.
As of 2020, Canada has lost $150 billion in energy investment opportunities since Justin Trudeau first became prime minister, which would have generated taxes, jobs and businesses for the domestic economy.
"The message from investors is clear — Canada's onerous and uncertain regulatory environment continues to hurt the investment attractiveness of the country's oil and gas industry," said Elmira Aliakbari, director of the Fraser Institute's centre for natural resource studies and co-author of the Canada-US Energy Sector Competitiveness Survey.
Of the 15 energy jurisdictions included in the survey last year, Wyoming ranked 1st, followed by Texas (2nd) and Oklahoma (3rd). Saskatchewan — Canada's highest-ranked province — was 6th, Alberta ranked 12th, and B.C. ranked 14th.
Kayande wrote in 2021 that he saw little future in the oil and gas sector and thought about leaving the business altogether. “The axeman, just behind our view, is inexorably nearing,” he said.
According to the Fraser Institute, senior energy executives criticized Canada’s inability to build pipelines and lauded “unpredictable provincial governments,” for "deriding the oil and gas sector" and discouraging significant investment into Canadian energy.
The Edmonton Journal contacted the NDP candidate to clarify whether his position had changed since he published his opinion column.
“As long as the world is using oil and gas, we should be using our oil and gas,” he replied.
“An Alberta NDP government will work with the oil and gas sector to support all forms of energy to reduce emissions to ensure the industry's long-term viability and continue to create good-paying jobs.”
"The federal government's stance on petroleum production has definitely deterred investment," reads the survey, adding "an overall hostility to petroleum companies in Canada that is very palpable in Eastern Canada" worsened the problem.
However, the limitations on pipeline capacity and the reality that new energy projects take longer than a year to get off the ground remain a continued concern. The survey said Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, has given investors a hard time getting shovels in the ground on their projects, even after securing regulatory approval.
"Policies matter, and when investors are clearly indicating they would rather invest in American states instead of Canadian provinces, policymakers should take note," said Julio Mejia, a policy analyst at the Fraser Institute.