One of the countries’ leading energy consultants, who was also a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Liberal Government of Paul Martin, is concerned that energy will not be a high profile issue in the current federal election campaign. Dan McTeague says there’s a lot going on right now and several big issues, including energy, are not being addressed.
He adds it’s unfortunate that not more attention is being focussed on building pipelines and getting product to market, as well as, where possible, improving our ability to process our bitumen into high value added gasoline, not just for the world, but for ourselves as well.
That noted, he was asked for his thoughts on the Insights West online survey last month, which showed both the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline projects, proposed for northern and southern BC respectively, are still opposed by slim majorities in this province.
Mr. MacTeague says, he’s really not surprised but cautions, “Pipelines are not new in Canada and for generations we’ve relied on pipelines to provide us with an abundance of cheap natural gas, oil, and other petroleum products. So while we might want to focus on events where we’ve had unfortunate spills, the alternative of simply allowing other nations to provide energy for us is a recipe for disaster.”
He adds, “I don’t understand how we would not want to make those kinds of investments to get Canadian products to world markets, instead of navel gazing and saying, well you know we can all just live happily by other means. The idea of renewables is emerging, but we’re not there yet, and there’s no sense in throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We can all be good international boy scouts, but at the end of the day we have to be mindful that these investments also produce things that are very positive for our society.”
Mr. McTeague, who sat in the Commons for nearly two decades as an Ontario MP, was also asked what energy policy advice he’d give to the campaigning party leaders to properly address what is now a more than year old crude oil pricing problem.
He starts with a reminder that the petroleum industry has a history of being the countries’ largest revenue generator, and the fact that it is now only worth half of what it was at this time last year, spells difficulty for the economy, consumers, and government revenues. That noted he reiterates, a much better effort must be made to make sure the industry product gets to global markets.
He argues we must do more to ensure, “That we take advantage of what is now an obvious no-brainer, which I talked about some 15 to 17 years ago. When you keep shutting down refineries and relying on other people to provide you with higher value added products you’re ultimately going to pay of it. So we’re losing our economic vitality on crude’s demise, but we’re also at the same time not being able to take advantage of these massive, I would say unprecedented, gasoline margins.”
He also contends that, “Right now a good refiner in Canada can make up to 30 cents a litre, and that certainly warrants and should get the attention of the investment community, to get back to the idea of processing our oil into higher value added, and clean gasoline. I think that should be top drawer politics, and public policy statements.”
Finally, Mr. McTeague said, “We all want clean energy and we all want to head down the road of new technologies surrounding environmental questions, but those could be done hand in hand, and you shouldn’t be willing to ignore the golden goose—which tends to be the petroleum industry as a whole.