Canada’s place in a global energy market
In 2019 the Energy Council of Canada launched the North American and International Outreach program (NAIO). We conceived it as a unique means for Canada to get the message out internationally about the strength and diversity of our energy sector. Our message is that there are few, if any, forms of energy that don’t exist in Canada. The country is rich in energy resources. It is also rich in knowledge, expertise, and experience in the economic development of those resources. And now, in an age that demands that the environmental impact of energy production and use be minimized, our sector has demonstrated that it takes that challenge seriously and that it has the know-how to rise to it.
Since NAIO was implemented ECC has been called upon multiple times by Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC) Trade Commissioners Service to support its efforts to open trade and investment opportunities for the Canadian energy sector. The Council has co-hosted sessions with GAC with senior executives and government officials from Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. Earlier this year, at the request of the Polish Embassy, ECC organized a seminar on Canadian energy with a special focus on small modular nuclear reactor development in Canada. The event was put on for the benefit of the visiting Prime Minister of Poland and included senior Canadian and Polish ministers, as well as the Premier of Ontario. This year has seen the ECC invited to tell the Canadian story internationally. I have participated in events in Jamaica, South Africa, and Vietnam.
The fact that countries often depend on trading partners for energy security has been a strategic concern long before the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. The current conflict in Europe is a sharp reminder that energy independence remains an aspiration for some countries and an unachievable goal for others. While traditional energy commodities continue to dominate international trade, we’re starting to see evidence of an evolution. Materials that are critical for new energy technologies are not evenly distributed throughout the world. For many nations, international markets will be the delivery mechanism to obtain them. At the same time, knowledge, experience, and technology have become important commodities themselves. We have discovered that foreign countries’ interest in Canada is more often than not based on our expertise and research in unconventional sources of energy.
As countries struggle to modify the way in which energy is produced and used to drastically curtail its environmental impact, the trade in intellectual property, technology, and know-how is likely to increase further. ECC’s message to the international community is that Canada does it all. In the world of uncertainty of how to “clean” our energy system, we have “a chip on every square”. That’s good news for Canadians and it’s good news for the energy sector. We have a lot of what the world needs for the energy future. ECC intends to be in the forefront spreading that story internationally.
Thursday evening, 28 September, industry and government leaders came together to honour Nancy C. Southern, Chair and CEO of ATCO Ltd. and Canadian Utilities Ltd. She received the Canadian Energy Person of the Year Award (CEPY) for 2023, sponsored by the Energy Council of Canada.
The dinner and award ceremony, held at the Calgary Petroleum Club, brought together over 200 members of the energy sector to celebrate Ms. Southern’s distinguished career leading a major Canadian energy company. The Premier of Alberta, Ms. Danielle Smith, spoke of Ms. Southern’s contribution to industry, to Alberta, and to the welfare of Indigenous peoples, as well her support for the expansion of opportunities for women in the sector.
The award, a work of traditional Indigenous art comprised of tufted moose hair mounted on moosehide, was given to Ms. Southern by Chief Jim Boucher, a former CEPY recipient and current board member of the Energy Council of Canada.
In her remarks to the guests Ms. Southern highlighted the continued importance of the energy sector to Canada’s economy and Canadians’ quality of life. She noted that despite the fact that all Canadians have the same objectives – low-emission, affordable, reliable energy – there is too much conflict among Canadians about energy. She recognized that, given the current stage of development of new energy technologies, the pursuit of policy goals to help guide the transition is changing the status quo for consumers. We are moving away from low-cost, reliable energy sources to high-cost sources with less reliability. That is not to say that the efforts to transform energy are mis-directed. But Ms. Southern urged us to set aside the bickering and have an honest, transparent conversation about the true costs of the choices we face. Equally important, said Ms. Southern, is the effect of the transition on the role that the energy industries can play in economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
In the afternoon before the CEPY 2023 Dinner and Award Ceremony, the Energy Council of Canada, ATCO Ltd., and the Saa Dene Group of Companies presented a panel discussion on Indigenous energy. The panelists were: Chief Jim Boucher, co-founder of the Saa Dene Group of Companies; Chief Charles Weasel Head Jr., former Blood Tribe Chief, and former Chancellor of the University of Lethbridge. Jauvonne Kitto, co-founder and current CEO of the Saa Dene Group of Companies, moderated the discussion.
Chief Boucher and Chief Weasel Head Jr. spoke of their experience in developing enterprises that allowed Indigenous communities to participate in the development of the Alberta energy sector. They had a history of working in partnership with ATCO, as well as other companies and each other. Chief Boucher emphasized that their arrangements with ATCO were entered into on a sound commercial basis. The consequence was that when two important projects had to be terminated because they were no longer economic, the parties found an equitable and orderly way to bring them to a close. Both chiefs made a point of highlighting that business arrangements like that will inevitably face difficult situations and that a strong relationship of mutual respect is necessary to meet those challenges. They also emphasized the importance of education in Indigenous communities. The greater the access and advancement of community members in education, the greater the opportunities for those members and the greater the contribution they can make to their communities.
ECC was pleased to help sponsor the discussion. It provided an opportunity to draw on the experience and expertise of leaders of Indigenous enterprises and pass on their contribution to a wider audience.
Energy Council of Canada President and CEO, Jacob Irving, was interviewed on the podcast 360 on Energy and Carbon. The episode was part of an ongoing series of discussions about aspects of the energy transition. It was posted on YouTube.
Mr. Irving explained the nature and mission of the ECC and explained the organization’s perspective on Canadian energy. He highlighted the fact that Canada has a rich and diverse energy endowment. It allows the country to consider and pursue a variety of options in the search for the most effective way to meet Canadians’ energy needs while transforming the sector’s GHG emissions profile.
The podcast is produced by 360Energy, a broad-based consulting firm. The company advises utilities and energy consumers on how to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions while maintaining a profitable business.
In late August ECC participated in a Canada – Vietnam Clean Energy conference in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The workshop brought together business and government leaders from both countries in celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commission Service asked ECC to participate. ECC President and CEO, Jacob Irving, addressed the conference and participated in the discussion panels throughout the event.
Mr. Irving provided background on Canada and its energy sector. He noted that Canada and Vietnam rely upon hydropower to a greater extent than the global average. At the same time, both countries are significant hydrocarbon producers. Canada and Vietnam have the potential to produce clean hydrogen by using a combination of their non-emitting electricity and geological resources for carbon capture use and storage.
With Vietnam as a net energy importer and Canada as a net energy exporter, there are many pathways for mutual advantage to explore. The many similarities in energy profiles can provide both countries opportunities to learn from each other, toward achieving the shared goal of growing their economies while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is much to explore, building on the fifty years of diplomatic relations that have helped create the strong connection between Canada and Vietnam that we enjoy today.
The conference received a significant amount of local media coverage. ECC’s participation was featured in a television report – including an interview with Jacob Irving – as well as in newspaper accounts of the event.
CAPP ANALYSIS OF GOVERNMENT DATA INDICATES PROGRESS IN GHG REDUCTIONS IN CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTION: The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers released an analysis of government production and emissions data for conventional oil and gas. In an August 31st press release CAPP highlighted the evidence that conventional petroleum production has increased at the same time as an asbolute decline in emissions.
ECC MEMBERS SPONSOR CASE STUDIES OF JURISDICTIONS WORKING TOWARD NET ZERO: Electricity Canada, the Canadian Gas Association, and Natural Resources Canada funded a report undertaken by the Positive Energy Program at the University of Ottawa The study examined measures taken in jurisdictions in Australia, the UK, and the US in electricity and natural gas delivery. The research reviewed their effectiveness in moving to net-zero and what lessons that might have for Canada.
BLACK & VEATCH AWARDED FEED CONTRACT FOR BC OFFSHORE LNG PROJECT: The company, along with Samsung Heavy Industries, will carry out the front-end and engineering and design work for the project. It will be a floating LNG plant located on the treaty land of the Nisga’a Nation in northeast British Columbia. The Nisga’a Nation is a partner in the project, along with Western LNG and Rockies LNG.
GE HITACHI NUCLEAR ENERGY TO BEGIN PLANNING AND LICENSING OF THREE SMRS: The plants are to be built at OPG’s Darlington facility near Toronto. They would be in addition to the SMR currently under construction by OPG at the same site.
ONTARIO AND QUÉBEC WORK TOWARD ELECTRICITY TRADE AGREEMENT: Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and Hydro-Québec have signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the trade of 600 MW of electricity between the two provinces. Ontario would export the electricity in the winter to help Québec meet peak demand. The same volume would be sent back in summer to meet Ontario’s peak demand. The next step is to conclude a binding agreement that is expected to be in place for up to 10 years.
ENBRIDGE AGREES TO BUY 3 US GAS UTILITIES: In a transaction valued at US$14 billion (C$19 billion), the company will purchase East Ohio Gas, Questar Gas, and Public Service Co of North Carolina from Dominion Energy. “Adding natural gas utilities of this scale and quality, at a historically attractive multiple, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The transaction also reinforces our position as the first-choice energy delivery company in North America,” said Greg Ebel, Enbridge’s President and CEO.
The Energy Council of Canada is pleased to announce that Microsoft has become the newest member of the ECC. As a significant energy consumer, Microsoft will strengthen our ability to convene Canadians to engage in thoughtful, informed conversations about the production and use of energy in Canada.