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Canada has opportunity to become preferred global exporter of clean and ethical energy, ASC conference hears

ASC Connect 2022 took place in mid October, bringing together capital market participants who discussed critical issues and trends affecting Alberta’s economy and capital market

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Image by David Mark, Pixabay
Image by David Mark, Pixabay

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Canada has the potential to become the “preferred global supplier of responsibly produced energy,” says Lisa Baiton, the newly appointed CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). 

All that’s needed is the infrastructure, Baiton told attendees at ASC Connect 2022.

“If we can just get more of our Canadian resources to market and capture more of that global market share from countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq, in this next era we could position Canada as a global energy leader providing lower-emission energy around the world for decades.” 

The new head of CAPP participated in a panel discussion at ASC Connect called “Defining Alberta’s future” which looked at co-creating a competitive, inclusive and sustainable economy in Alberta.

“As capital leaves the energy market in Russia and potentially other authoritarian regimes, Canada can proudly offer a safe landing for that investment,” said Baiton, representing the voice of Canada’s upstream oil and natural gas industry. 

ASC Connect 2022 took place in mid October, bringing together capital market participants who discussed critical issues and trends affecting Alberta’s economy and capital market. More than 700 people registered for this year’s conference, including c-suite executives, small business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate lawyers, brokers, advisors, investors and other industry experts.

Energy security and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards were big topics of conversation, as well as environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG).

Using a collaborative approach and investment in new technology, Canadian producers have lowered the intensity of oil sands emissions by 14 per cent between 2013 and 2019, said Baiton.

“We already have one of the most ESG-friendly barrels of oil in the world,” she said. “And as we continue to reduce GHG emissions from our production, we really believe that we can have both increased production and lower GHG emissions over the long term.”

Joining Baiton was Adam Legge, president of the Business Council of Alberta, and Evan Siddall, CEO of AIMCo, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation. Stan Magidson, Chair and CEO of the Alberta Securities Commission, moderated the discussion.

The geopolitical situation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlights the attractiveness of stable, safe energy-producing democracies such as Canada, said Siddall, who unlike other pension fund managers refused to divest energy stocks over ESG concerns. Germany, in particular, has been left vulnerable due to its over reliance on Russia, the third-largest exporter of oil to global markets.

“We just cannot ignore energy as a core requirement for humanity. We would do that at our peril,” said Siddall. “So, the need for transition finance for continued economic prosperity and to reach global climate goals is indisputable.”

He believes “evangelism” around calls to eliminate hydrocarbons fails to recognize that as GDP grows, so will energy use. “Net zero implies net of something, which is some use of hydrocarbons,” he said.

Siddall believes the cost of achieving net-zero targets will be as much as $5-trillion per year, creating a “massive opportunity” for long-term investors, including AIMCo’s clients.

Legge, whose business council recently published a 10-year economic strategy for the province, believes Alberta’s best days are ahead but an important component is regaining the can-do spirit of Albertans. 

“We heard from Albertans that they felt we had lost our spirit over the past five to seven years,” said Legge, the author of Define the Decade: Building Alberta’s Future. “Part of charting our course for the future will be bringing back that spirit. It is coming back, but we need to ensure we keep focusing on our optimism and entrepreneurial, can-do drive.”

ASC Connect 2022

Other key takeaways from the discussion:

  • CAPP is focused on promoting the energy industry for its ability to be a big part of the solution to some of the world’s biggest problems, including energy security and GHG emissions reduction.
  • Panelists said the federal government needs to invest in energy export infrastructure to address energy security.
  • Panelists spoke about the critical need for both federal and provincial governments to provide regulatory and investor certainty to ensure massive, long-dated investment projects get built here.
  • Competitiveness with other countries is incredibly important. “We really need to be careful that we don’t cede Canada’s global GHG innovation leadership position and the related economic benefits to other countries,” said Baiton. “Canada’s approach must also be globally competitive, and that will require a collaborative partnership between industry, governments and the investor community.”

To watch this session, or any of the other panel discussions, ASC Connect 2022 is available for playback at the ASC website.

Alberta Securities Commission

The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) is the regulatory agency responsible for administering the province's securities laws. It is entrusted to foster a fair and efficient capital market in Alberta and to protect investors. As a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC works to improve, coordinate and harmonize the regulation of Canada's capital markets.

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