Industry comes to Global Energy Show with questions as energy transition takes centre stage

One delegate said there has been ‘a kind of reluctance’ among energy companies to invest in emission-abating technology due to uncertainty

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The energy sector descended upon the newly completed BMO Centre expansion on Tuesday for the Global Energy Show — with emissions on its mind and plenty of questions about how it’s expected to move forward.

The event comes amid a period of regulatory uncertainty, some observers said, as Canada works to establish a comprehensive emissions-reduction plan that’s needed for major infrastructure projects to go ahead.

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Tuesday’s program was headlined by Premier Danielle Smith, who reiterated her desire for Alberta to double its oil and natural gas production while “phasing out emissions.” Alberta is also in the process of updating its oil reserve data, a report expected to be released in September for the first time since 2011. She said September’s new data is expected to be higher than the numbers reported in 2011.

Smith said in her speech that she continues to have “robust dialogue” with the federal government and reiterated the province’s commitment to hit carbon neutrality by 2050.

“We do not want that investment going elsewhere because the federal government creates uncertainty, and so we’re working very hard to create that certainty,” she said.

Danielle Smith at the Global Energy Show
Premier Danielle Smith speaks during the opening ceremonies of the 2024 Global Energy Show at the BMO Centre in Calgary on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. Gavin Young/Postmedia

‘Industry needs those clear marching orders’

Mike Dizep, business development manager for Bridger Photonics, a Montana-based company that scans methane emissions, said there’s a wide variance in how Alberta energy companies are managing their emissions.

“There’s really progressive operators out there that are fully bought in . . . There’s other operators out there that are going to have to be pulled in by regulations to be good stewards of the environment,” Dizep said as convention delegates fanned across the expansive first floor of the new convention centre.

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Dizep said there has been “a kind of reluctance” among energy companies to invest in emission-abating technology due to regulatory uncertainty from provincial and federal governments. While the federal government has promised carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) investment tax credits, to date they haven’t passed.

“I think we really need to get to a point where all jurisdictions are aligned, both the federal government and the provincial government, on what this pathway looks like . . . industry needs those clear marching orders,” he said.

Feds need to establish industry-wide framework, says expert: ‘This is your legacy’

Martha Hall Findlay, former chief climate officer for Suncor Energy and now director of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, said in an interview that she believes the emissions targets countries signed onto at the COP28 conference in late 2023 are “not realistic.” Hall Findlay helped create the Pathways Alliance, a group of Canada’s six largest oil and gas companies that’s planning to create a major carbon capture system.

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The most recent agreed-upon climate pledge at COP28 signed by 66 governments, including Canada, committed to reducing human-caused methane emissions by at least 30 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030.

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One of the federal government’s keys to its emissions-reduction plan are carbon contracts for difference (CCFD), a complicated system that guarantees the future price of carbon.

Despite inking a handful of individual CCFD deals with individual companies, the federal government has not established an industry-wide framework. Hall Findlay said she fears the future of the Pathways project would be in jeopardy if the Liberal government fails to establish a CCFD framework before the October 2025 election and the party falls out of power.

“This is your legacy. You don’t do this before the next election, you will have no legacy,” she said, adding that she feels the government has dragged its feet as energy companies look to finalize emissions-reduction investment decisions.

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“These are companies that are used to pulling stuff out of the ground and selling it. They’re not used to putting stuff back in and having to pay for it,” she said.

Global Energy Show
Delegates take in the trade show area at the 2024 Global Energy Show at the BMO Centre in Calgary on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. Gavin Young/Postmedia

Hall Findlay said the tenor at energy conferences over the past two years has changed substantially, particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which cast a spotlight on European countries’ dependence on Russian energy.

“I think (there’s) certainly a greater realization that Canada shutting everything down would do absolutely nothing for the global climate,” Hall Findlay said.

BMO Centre expansion a ‘game-changer’

The show was the first major event held at the new BMO Centre expansion.

Nick Samain, senior vice-president of DMG events, said the building is a “game-changer” due to its increased meeting space, allowing hundreds more people to attend the convention. It expected approximately 30,000 people to attend the convention by the end of the three days.

BMO Centre expansion hosts the Global Energy Show
The new expansion of the BMO Centre hosted its first major event with the opening of the 2024 Global Energy Show on Tuesday June 11, 2024. Gavin Young/Postmedia

The event, which has frequently featured addresses from major energy company executives, saw large participation from provincial politicians, including Smith, Energy Minister Brian Jean and Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz.

This year’s event, however, did not feature any remarks from Canada’s major oil and gas companies.

— Files from Chris Varcoe

[email protected]
X: @mattscace67

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