Building momentum toward a diverse energy future

Update from Chris Bloomer, President and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

When 2021 began, many of us were feeling hopeful, but still apprehensive as COVID-19 continued to grip our nation. Now, at the mid-year mark, there is a renewed sense of optimism and momentum as our vaccination rates grow and economies begin to reopen.

That momentum is building across the energy sector and transmission pipeline industry as we continue to evolve and help shape a diverse energy future for Canada and the world. A future where all energy options are on the table, including renewables, natural gas and oil.

Evolving energy mix


Striking a balanced energy mix will be critical as the economy recovers from the global pandemic and Canada endeavours to reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. As new energy sources emerge and the energy mix evolves, it will take time to ensure those new sources are reliable, resilient, sustainable and affordable.

The pipeline industry is a critical part of the energy mix, safely transporting responsibly produced natural gas and oil that Canada and the world need. CEPA members are working hard to reduce their environmental footprint by reducing emissions and developing new technologies that are changing the way Canada produces and delivers energy.


Pipeline progress


Momentum is building in other ways as we head into the second half of 2021. Three new pipelines are moving forward and under construction, which will add much-needed capacity to the system. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project, Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Program and Coastal GasLink will add tremendous value to Canada’s economy within the next two years. They are already employing thousands of people and will play a critical role in helping Canada recover from the economic damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even with these projects coming online, analysts say Canada will need more pipeline capacity to meet the potential supply coming into the market – particularly since the cancellation of Keystone XL.


Hydrogen: Fuel of the future


A tremendous global effort is underway to expand the use of emerging fuels, such as hydrogen. Canada’s hydrogen strategy estimates hydrogen could deliver up to 30 per cent of Canada’s end-use energy by 2050. Momentum is building in this area as well, with the recent announcement of a multi-billion dollar net-zero hydrogen complex in Edmonton.

All that hydrogen will need to be safely transported from producing regions to markets and pipelines are the safest and most cost-efficient way to do that. Research is underway to determine how much hydrogen current pipeline systems can manage and what improvements need to be made to ensure the safest transport and storage of hydrogen.


Carbon capture, utilization and storage innovations


Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is also building momentum in Canada and around the world as a way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The process of capturing, transporting, using and storing greenhouse gas emissions is being put into play on a global scale and the technology is advancing rapidly.

Pipelines play a crucial role in CCUS, as they are used to transport the carbon dioxide from facilities to be sequestered deep underground. The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line system is an example of this – transporting carbon dioxide (CO2) from capture sites to mature oil fields in Central Alberta for secure storage and enhanced oil recovery projects. It can transport up to 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of the emissions of 3 million cars. Pembina and TC Energy also recently announced the Alberta Carbon Grid – a  world-scale carbon transportation and sequestration system, which will connect Alberta’s largest sources of industrial emissions to a sequestration location.


Political climate and the energy future


We cannot talk about the remainder of 2021 without acknowledging the current political climate. A potential federal election will have an impact on policy moving forward, which will play a crucial role in shaping the energy future of our country.

CEPA works closely with all levels of government and governments of all political stripes to advocate for effective energy policies that will enable a diverse energy future. Examples of this include CEPA’s work with the federal hydrogen task force, the Alberta red tape reduction task force and other initiatives.

The political climate in the United States continues to produce challenges for cross border movement on existing and new pipelines. CEPA is closely monitoring the Line 5 situation and we are optimistic that rationality will prevail. Our countries must continue to work together to ensure a reliable, resilient, sustainable and affordable energy future for all.


Optimistic about the momentum


With oil prices on the rise, the end of the pandemic in sight and advances in green technologies, there are many reasons to be optimistic as we move into the second half of 2021.

Momentum is building for a diverse and inclusive energy future – a future where pipelines will continue to deliver the energy you need in the safest, most responsible way.