2020: A look back at progress for pipelines

In the second of our two-part year-in-review blog series for Canada’s transmission pipeline industry, Chris Bloomer, President and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), reflects on significant highlights in 2020.

In a January blog post earlier this year, you called out some specific industry priorities for 2020. Now that the year is almost over, how did the pipeline industry manage those priorities?

 

Last January, getting new pipelines built, the federal government’s implementation of Bill C-69, as well as Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) priorities were some of the biggest things on CEPA’s radar. Then the COVID-19 global pandemic hit. I’m proud to say the pipeline industry kept our commitments, despite the pandemic’s challenges. That’s a credit to all the people who keep pipeline systems flowing reliably – every day of every year.

Four key projects were high on the industry’s priority list at the beginning of the year – Keystone XL, Coastal GasLink, the Trans Mountain Expansion and Line 3. Those pipelines faced uncertainty about their execution, including various legal and regulatory hurdles. So, it’s great that all four projects are under construction now and we’re optimistic that they will be in operation in the next few years.

 

You’ve said it’s important for the industry to embrace ESG as a way of measuring performance. What’s progress been like, so far?

 

Canada is a global leader on ESG performance. And in 2020, ESG became even more embedded as a way for investors to view the pipeline industry, and for how we see ourselves.

CEPA did a substantial amount of work on ESG this year to build a shared knowledge base and understanding of ESG priorities for our industry. We’ve been participating in the Government of Alberta’s ESG Working Group to create a more compelling argument for Alberta investment using ESG performance data and scientific evidence, enhancing investor confidence, and attracting investment. And in our annual industry performance report – titled “Canadian energy. For a responsible future.” – ESG was the dominant theme this year.

 

What other big highlights of the year would you call out?

 

There were developments in 2020 that could present massive opportunities for transmission pipelines.

Hydrogen got a lot of attention in 2020 as a fuel to dramatically reduce carbon intensity. Natural gas is a primary component in making blue hydrogen. With its abundant natural gas resources, Alberta will play a central role in building out a hydrogen economy. And pipelines are the most economical and efficient way to distribute large quantities of hydrogen.

Also, the recent Canadian Energy Regulator forecast saw oil and natural gas continuing to be the primary (about 60 per cent) energy source for Canadians by 2050. This is consistent with what we know – oil and natural gas will continue to be an important part of the energy mix. That means our energy future could be a mix of… renewable energy sources, oil and gas, plus hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, more electrification, and electricity that’s generated in different ways.

In a nutshell… although 2020 was a difficult year due to the global pandemic and the economic fallout, there were bright spots for our industry. The Government of Canada recognized pipelines as critical infrastructure, which enabled the movement of supply chain personnel and equipment across borders and continued pipeline maintenance and construction activities. We also have more certainty about the necessary growth of our pipeline infrastructure than we did a year ago. We have great new opportunities with lower-emission forms of energy. And we know Canada can be a global player in the energy future.

Canada has the energy that the world needs for decades to come, and we’re in a great position to provide it.

About Pipelines blog thanks Chris Bloomer for his reflections on the pipeline industry in 2020 and wishes all readers a safe and happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.