Pipelines are vital for Canada’s economic recovery and growth

Mid-way through a year we’d already like to forget, Chris Bloomer, President and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), has a steady, calm sense of optimism about the future of Canada’s pipeline industry.

“Our experience with the global pandemic has made it clear… we’re an essential service for Canada and critical to the economy,” says Bloomer. “Now we need to turn our attention to how our industry will contribute to economic recovery and growth.”

In this week’s blog post, About Pipelines checked in with CEPA’s President for a mid-year update on the pipeline industry.


It’s fair to say a lot changed since we last talked about the state of the industry back in January. What are your thoughts on the industry today?


I’m pleased to say we’ve made steady progress in the past six months. Construction on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is progressing. Plus, the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling in its favour is another positive outcome. TC Energy’s Keystone XL Pipeline project has also moved to construction in Alberta.


The COVID-19 global pandemic has had a devastating effect across many industries. What’s the impact been on the Canadian pipeline industry?


We can’t ignore that COVID has had devastating social and economic impacts. And of course, it’s had a negative impact on oil and gas demand. But the COVID pandemic also reinforced the critical nature of Canada’s pipeline infrastructure.

Life would have been even more difficult in the past months without pipelines and the products they carry. That’s because Canadians rely on the energy delivered by our critical pipeline network to feed ourselves, heat our homes, workplaces and hospitals, power our electricity system and fuel the transportation systems that deliver essential products. And now, there’s a broader appreciation that many essential items come from oil and gas – items like plastics, pharmaceuticals, antiseptics, detergents, and anaesthetics. There’s also a better understanding of the role pipelines play in ensuring those products are there for us when we need them.


Have we learned any big lessons through this difficult time?


The COVID-19 crisis taught us that Canada needs the ability to look after itself in a pandemic. We must have our own supply chains for critical things. Fortunately, we have the raw materials, the human resources, the ingenuity, and the energy we need to be self-sufficient and to help others. What we need is the will to work together to leverage our natural advantages for the future of all Canadians.

And, although we’re blessed with an energy infrastructure that supplies virtually all our needs, the pandemic also showed us that, to some extent, we take those things for granted.


What’s your outlook on the future?


Our members remain optimistic that the next two years will be about getting infrastructure built and shifting focus from regulatory approval and construction to operations.

Recovery, growth, and responding to fluctuations in demand, will be significant challenges for everyone in the energy industry. But we can overcome those challenges by focusing our collective abilities.

We also have a responsibility to position our industry to be part of a responsible energy future. Right now, much is being made of a perceived need to relaunch the economy in a less carbon-intensive manner. CEPA agrees that environmental sustainability should be a priority for both Canada and the world. However, the idea that we can relaunch our economy without oil and natural gas ignores reality. Energy products need to go where the demand is. And pipelines are the safest, most responsible way to move oil and natural gas to support economic recovery.

The Canadian pipeline industry is in a great position to help our economy move forward and grow. And we’ll continue to serve Canadians in the safest, most sustainable way possible.