Canada's oil and gas industry is at a crossroads.
“Do we choose as a nation to support and grow this industry?” asked Darren Gee, CEO of Peyto Exploration and Development, at a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce lunch on Friday.
“Or do we shut it down and see someone else benefit from the investment, revenues, economic and social development?”
It’s Energy Week in Canada and the Kelowna chamber brought in two petroleum speakers for its luncheon at the Ramada Hotel to mark the week.
“I’ve been booed off stages because I’m in the oil and gas business,” said Gee.
“That’s not fair because Canada is a leader globally in energy and the rest of the world needs our energy to create higher standards of living for people living in poverty.”
Demand for oil and gas in developed countries has plateaued, according to Gee.
But roaring economies in developing Asian countries are hungry for all energy from cow dung, coal, oil and gas to hydro-electricity, wind and solar.
“If Canada doesn't supply Asia, someone else will,” said Gee.
“And that’s likely to be one of the world’s other biggest producers like the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq or Russia, all of which don’t have the same high environmental standards of Canada.”
Gee doesn’t expect those high environment standards to change, but he does want governments to ease up on the red tape and allow pipelines so Canadian producers can increase output and get their oil and gas to market.
Pipelines to the coast are essential to get oil and gas on shipping tanker to export to Asia.
“Canada has an abundance of energy and a moral obligation to provide the rest of the world with energy so they can develop their economies and improve their standard of living,” said Gee.
Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, also spoke at the lunch.
“Canada has 300 years worth of natural gas supply underground that’s affordable and developable,” he said.
“People are coming out of abject poverty in countries around the world and they want to heat and cool their homes, cook in a real kitchen, have electric light and maybe buy the family’s first scooter or small car. It’s better all this be fueled with Canadian natural gas, which is one of the cleanest fuels, rather than coal.”
McMillan stressed he’s all for wind, solar and hydro energy.
“We need all kinds of energy to meet global demand,” he said.
“Yet, we are under attack and we need Canadians and the business community to support us in addressing this as a nation. We need LNG facilities and pipelines to connect the world to Canadian resources. We can’t miss this phenomenal opportunity. Competi-tiveness matters, so do lower taxes and fair regulations.”