Canada needs to extract full value from its oil and gas resources for economic recovery

We start this week’s blog by giving a big shout-out to Canada’s health care workers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe in the current COVID-19 global pandemic.

We’re fortunate our country has a robust public health system that keeps us safe during these challenging times and makes Canada one of the best places to live. But it’s more than simply good luck. The safety net we all rely on depends on our continued ability to develop and transport natural resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made Canadians more aware of the many essential products that come from oil and gas. They include pesticides, fertilizers, antiseptics, food preservatives, pharmaceuticals, refrigerants, detergents, and anaesthetics. And they include raw materials for the plastics that go into making the personal protective equipment that keeps our front-line workers safe.

In this week’s blog post, we look at some of the ways oil and gas, and the pipelines that move them, can help our economy recover from the damage caused by the global pandemic.

 

A central role in economic recovery

 

In a recent Globe and Mail opinion piece, Which private sector industries ‘pay the bills’ for Canada?, the writer talks about how important oil and gas will be to Canada’s recovery. He notes, “Energy alone made up almost one-fifth of Canada’s total exports last year, with oil and natural gas accounting for the vast majority of the country’s energy-related export earnings.” (Globe and Mail. Findlayson, J. July 2, 2020.).

“This industry is critically important to creating jobs, capital investment, and contributing to the economy – and we’re blessed with an energy infrastructure that supplies virtually all our needs,” says CEPA President and CEO Chris Bloomer. “As we look ahead, the value petrochemicals bring in creating products from oil and gas will be a vital part of our economic recovery.”

One large petrochemical project already in construction is Inter Pipeline’s Heartland Petrochemical Complex. When completed, it will convert locally-sourced, low-cost propane into 525,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene, a high-value, recyclable plastic used to make a vast range of finished products. Consumer packaging, textiles, automobile components, medical equipment and currency are just a few of the products produced using polypropylene.

With this project, Canadian producers will be able to realize greater value for their propane resources. And, although the project is in Alberta, large development projects like this one source materials, services and skilled labour from across the country. That, in turn, makes direct and indirect contributions to the broader Canadian economy.

Fall 2020 will also see the launch of the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program, a new 10-year grant program by the Alberta government, which will aim to attract multi-billion-dollar petrochemical investments.

Aside from petrochemicals, projects are underway to expand our export markets for oil and gas. Countries in Asia need our responsibly-produced Canadian energy products to improve air quality and tackle climate change. And projects to produce liquified natural gas (LNG) are helping to create export markets for our natural gas. In addition, once the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is complete, Canada will have access to more markets for its oil products.

 

Here are four ways pipelines will play an important part in economic recovery

 

  • Canada’s network of energy pipelines will move oil and gas from wells to petrochemical plants for processing to make a vast range of finished plastic products.
  • Our pipelines will safely carry billions of cubic feet of natural gas to LNG processing plants where it will be liquified for transport overseas.
  • Pipelines will transport oil to tidewater for export to Asian countries or North American refineries in the east.
  • And pipeline projects create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, as well as ‘induced’ jobs, which are jobs from the economic boost that results when those workers spend (like in restaurants and movie theatres).

The global pandemic shone a light on the important role the energy pipeline industry plays in our daily lives. The next step will be to help our country derive the full value of our oil and natural gas products for the economic recovery.