Getting Alberta’s energy economy back on track will require a two-fold solution, according to industry experts: improving pipeline capacity and removing trade barriers.
“Canada’s energy industry has been built on safely supplying Canadians, Americans and overseas markets with reliable, affordable, low-carbon energy, which means we need to continue to build new pipelines and ports to serve those markets in an open and competitive way,” says Cindy Park, Director of Community Engagement for Seven Generations Energy Ltd. out of Grande Prairie. “To do that, we need to be ever vigilant in ensuring that we have free trade across provincial and international boundaries.”
The lack of the ability to effectively transport oil and natural gas is affecting the bottom line for Canadian producers, but more importantly all Canadians.
“When pipeline bottlenecks arise, prices fall, and we have to sell our resources at a massive discount to American customers,” says Jordan Johnsen, Vice President of Operations & Engineering for Seven Generations Energy Ltd.
“Oil and natural gas belong to the people of Alberta and the benefits of our energy production flow to all Canadians. However, when we are unable to get full value for our resources, Canadians are shortchanged, and that hurts all of us.”
Recent estimates have pegged the ‘bottleneck discounts’ at costing Alberta as much as $50 million dollars at day in lost revenue. “The impact is far beyond the energy industry,” adds Park. “Receiving fair prices for our resources helps fund education, hospitals, public services, and builds communities.”
The second key to reviving Alberta’s economy, according to Park and Johnsen, is removing barriers to provincial and international trade.
Johnsen cites recent public policy measures as being too restrictive, including tanker bans on export ports and other provincial government’s opposition to pipeline construction.
“Across the globe, hundreds of ports are built to safely trade oil and natural gas. We have several in Canada, and we must not ban trade in some of our deep-water ocean ports. That will not help grow the free and efficient movement of goods and services across Canada, and with our international trading partners, especially when we need access to new markets – Asia being the prime example,” Johnsen says.
Johnsen points to the New West Partnership Trade Agreement—an accord among the four western provinces meant to enable the freer flow of goods, services and workers—
as a path to success. “That model should be revived, and the partners need to look at how to make it better – even living up to the existing provisions would be a strong step forward given some of the new barriers that have arisen,” he says.
Unfortunately, adherence to the agreement by signatories has fallen in recent years as the economy has contracted.
“When you have an economic downturn, then you have provinces protecting their own interests,” explains Ken Kobly Alberta Chambers of Commerce President and CEO. “We’ve had Members tell us that it’s easier to trade North to South with American customers than it is to trade than East to West – we need to recognize that as individual provinces, we have to eliminate onerous and obstructive trade barriers.”
Kobly and the ACC believe that Alberta’s next government needs to expand the province’s horizons within Canada’s borders, and beyond. “Alberta businesses can compete with anybody in the world,” he says. “If we want to work with other provinces, we have to allow competition – we have to resist the urge to erect barriers.”
To learn more about ways to grow provincial trade, visit voteprosperityab.com
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Alberta Chambers of Commerce
Click here for the original article on edmontonjournal.com: Growing trade and removing barriers will help unlock Albertan and Canadian prosperity