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A tip of the CAPP

Had lunch with Kelly McTaggart of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers on Tuesday.

OK, there were about 50 Rotarians in the room too, so it’s not like I had an exclusive (thanks to Rod Holmes for the invite).

McTaggart is the Advisor, Exploration and Production Engagement for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the voice of Canada’s upstream oil and natural gas industry. Try fitting that on your business card.

All three local Rotary clubs brought her in to hear what she had to say.

And it was certainly an interesting discussion.

There were a few items that I found particularly interesting. The first was a graph she showed about global carbon emissions. Globally, Canada is responsible for about 1.7 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. This stat often gives rise to the argument, which was brought up by an audience member, why are we so worried about reducing our emissions when the we are such a small player on the global stage?

McTaggart didn’t bite, stating that reducing carbon emissions is a goal of the oil and gas industry and that this country’s liquefied natural gas industry is all about helping other countries reduce their emissions by getting them off coal and other more polluting energy sources.

I’ve never liked the argument that Canada is a small player so we shouldn’t be too worried about reducing our emissions. I liken it to being a member of a firing squad: The fact you used a .22 and everyone else used an assault rifle doesn’t make you any less responsible for the condemned man’s death.

Plus, Canada’s 36 million people account for about 0.5 per cent of the world’s population so when it comes to spewing crap into the air, we punch well above our weight.

Prior to the economic meltdown of 2008, the industry was putting about $80 billion a year into drilling. That dropped to about $40 billion a year and, for a variety of reasons (a big one being its cheaper and faster to drill wells in the U.S.) the investments in drilling still haven’t recovered and 2019 is looking like the number will drop to about $35 billion.

If you don’t like the oil and gas industry that’s good news, if you like (or have investments in) the industry, that’s not-so-good news.

But make no mistake about it, even with reduced drilling, the industry will be able to fill the TransMountain, Keystone XL, and Line 3 pipelines, should they get built. The push for pipelines is all about increasing capacity. In addition, one of the benefits of the TransMountain, McTaggart said, is that it will be the only pipeline delivering Canadian oil to markets other than the U.S.

With the Canadian Senate looking to put the kibosh on the moratorium on oil tankers on B.C.’s north coast I asked whether there was an any appetite for dusting off the Northern Gateway project. “No,” was the answer.