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Notes for a Speech by
The Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources
Energy and the Road to Canada’s Prosperity
Calgary Chamber of Commerce
July 15, 2011
Check against delivery
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
I’d like to thank the Calgary Chamber of Commerce for providing me the opportunity to speak here today.
I also see some colleagues of mine in the audience with Rona Ambrose and Jason Kenney, the Ministers of Public Works and Citizenship and Immigration respectively.
It’s great to be back in Calgary, especially during Stampede which I am looking forward to seeing. It's also a pleasure to meet friends and former colleagues whom I’ve worked with over the years in my previous life in the securities industry.
Calgary has always been a place of enormous vitality and opportunity.
With drilling activity on the upswing, oil prices improving, unemployment falling and oil sands investment returning, Alberta looks like it’s poised for another growth cycle, which is great for the province and for the entire country.
In my new role as Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, I oversee a portfolio that encompasses many responsibilities from forestry to earthquake preparedness, even the Atlas of Canada.
Energy is a critical part of the portfolio.
Economic Impact of the Energy Sector
Today, the future of Canada’s economy and our national security is inextricably linked to energy.
On the world stage, Canada is fast emerging as a global energy superpower.
We are a world leader in energy with the second highest hydro-electric development, second in uranium and third in natural gas exports.
All together, the energy sector represents 6.8% of Canada’s GDP, providing direct employment for over 260,000 people.
It is the largest single private investor of capital, representing 20% of total new capital investment at $61 billion.
By any measure, energy is a major economic driver -- a key strategic sector that contributes economic benefits and provides energy security to Canada, North America and the world.
This is true right across Canada.
Many provinces have large hydroelectric resources and are significant exporters of electricity. Others have large fossil fuel resources, while others still have significant nuclear and renewable development.
While the type of resource differs across Canada, all provinces have significant energy resources.
All our provinces and territories are united in their desire to see a strong energy sector.
This is especially well understood in Alberta where a large part of our energy future lies.
Economic Impact of the Oil Sands
One of the prime sources of our energy strength is the development of the oil sands deposits here in Western Canada.
Most Canadians don’t realize that we are blessed with the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world at 174 billion barrels – only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have more. And about 97 percent of these reserves are found in Alberta’s oil sands.
Over the next 25 years, the oil sands are expected to contribute almost $2.1 trillion in new development to Canada’s economy. That means $253 billion for construction costs and $1.8 trillion for the operation and maintenance of these megaprojects.
To put in context, our nation’s GDP in 2010 is estimated at $1.625 trillion dollars.
Beyond the benefits to Alberta, the oil sands also underpin Canada’s growing natural wealth.
In 2009, Canada’s natural wealth stood at about $3 trillion – triple its value in 1990. In large part, this is due to the high value of the oil trapped in our vast oil sands reserves.
Today, thanks to the hard work and determination of individuals in both the public and private sectors, the economic impact of the oil sands is being felt in every Canadian province, territory and many American states.
Governments use tax revenue from the oil sands to build roads and schools, to pay nurses’ salaries, to fund cutting-edge research and to make Canada one of the best countries in the world in which to live.
Just as important, the oil sands are a key driver in virtually every sector of the Canadian economy – equipment manufacturing, construction, engineering, financial services – everywhere.
So we need to correct a popular misconception that the oil sands are just about Alberta.
They are about Canada’s economic future.
Albertans love their land. It’s easy to see why. This is an incredible province.
And, as Prime Minister Harper said here in Calgary last week, we are the party of original conservationists.
We recognize that there are environmental challenges associated with developing the oil sands.
Our Government will work with Alberta’s oil industry to advance and enhance practices of good stewardship and sustainability.
But, we will equally defend the province and its interests against those who attack Alberta’s industry and who seek to freeze its growth and cut its access to foreign markets.
Remember, the Harper Government will defend and protect the interests of this province!
To put it simply, it is the right thing to do.
Moving Forward on Energy Issues
Oil will be part of the energy mix for Canada and the rest of the world for many years.
Global demand for oil is expected to grow by about 5 million barrels a day by 2015.
The growing demand for oil is only part of the story.
The International Energy Agency projects global energy demand from all sources will increase 36% by 2035.
The world supply of renewable energy is expected to triple over the next 25 years.
So Canada must be a leader on clean electricity and we are well-positioned to deliver.
But, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue to develop markets both domestically and abroad for future use of wind, solar, geothermal, marine, and biomass energy sources.
Tapping international markets to become a global energy superpower, whether that is natural gas, renewable power or oil, is key to Canada’s economic future.
And we are well-positioned to grow our energy markets as a politically stable, competitive and reliable energy producer.
While our relationship with the U.S. is key to our future in energy markets, emerging markets in Asia are increasingly important. Just recently, China surpassed the US as the world’s largest consumer of energy.
While Canada has emerged as an important source of global crude oil and natural gas supply, there is more work to do. To achieve our full potential, we need to make major investments in oil and natural gas infrastructure in this country.
In other words, we have to get our resources to market, to increase production, and help meet the world’s need for reliable sources of energy.
Coupled with increasing demand for energy there are mounting concerns about supply constraints and the need for energy security both in Canada and abroad.
Just recently, the International Energy Agency decided to release 60 million barrels of strategic reserves, with 30 million coming from the U.S., to offset the disruption in global oil supplies caused by recent unrest in the Middle East.
For the US to achieve more energy security, it will need to import more Canadian energy and oil.
The Keystone XL Pipeline Project -- going from Alberta to Texas -- will help provide energy security for Canada and the U.S. in a safe and environmentally responsible way.
Upon completion, the Keystone XL pipeline would permanently enhance North America's energy security and overall market stability.
Consider that its 500,000 barrel per day commercial capacity would regularly deliver, every 60 days, 30 million barrels of oil to the U.S. - exactly equivalent to the recent release from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve.
A national vision on energy
While Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of this growing energy demand, energy security and a lower-carbon economy, there are domestic challenges we have to meet head-on.
At the upcoming Energy and Mines Ministers Conference, or EMMC, our goal will be to find ways to harness our energy potential in a responsible manner.
Over the last few years, provinces and territories, industry, think-tanks and stakeholders across Canada have been coming to a consensus that a pan-Canadian approach to energy is needed.
At the last EMMC, Ministers tasked officials to look into how we can move forward.
At our upcoming conference, I will work together with my provincial and territorial colleagues on a shared vision.
I believe a shared vision on energy is crucial to Canada’s long-term future as a global energy superpower.
We need to work together to strengthen Canada’s position in the global energy market through a vision, common principles and clear goals.
Collaboration respects the uniqueness of each jurisdiction, but positions us much better to harness our energy potential, grow our status as a clean energy supplier and create jobs and prosperity for Canadians.
Such a vision does not imply federal command and control.
We have been clear since forming government that we will respect provincial jurisdiction. We will not change course. Any and all initiatives will be pursued jointly with our provincial and territorial partners.
This won’t be a quick process, it will take time to develop and time to ensure that the interests of all regions of our vast country are represented.
Our Government will also respect the principles that the energy sector must be market-oriented and governed by effective, efficient and transparent regulatory systems.
In the Speech from the Throne we reiterated this commitment to improvements in the regulatory and environmental assessment process.
We’ve already taken action to improve the regulatory system with the establishment of the Major Projects Management Office.
After its third year of operations, the Office now manages over 70 project reviews, representing about $120 billion in investment in communities right across Canada. About half of these major projects are in the energy sector.
In working with provinces and territories on regulatory reform, our ultimate goal is simple: one project, one review.
Streamlining regulatory reviews will not weaken our environmental protection regime but strengthen it and provide Canadian industry with more predictable timelines.
Indeed, one of the key areas that Minister’s from across Canada will address is how to enhance the environmental sustainability of our natural resources and move towards a low-carbon future.
I look forward to working collaboratively with my colleagues on these areas of shared interest.
Our economic future depends on it.
Importance to the World
As Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, I want Canadians, and the world, to understand the extraordinary economic and strategic importance of Canada’s energy resources to Canada and the United States.
It’s my job, along with my colleagues in government, to ensure that Canadians are deriving maximum benefit from our wealth of natural resources. But it’s also our job to ensure Canada’s energy resources are developed in a sustainable and responsible way.
I intend to carry this message across the country and around the world.
A vision of Canada as a stable, environmentally-friendly global energy superpower that has the resources the world needs to meet its energy needs in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
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