Roughneck Mag

Five New Year’s Resolutions (I Wish Others Would Make)

By Scott Jeffrey

Maybe we should all try this. Let’s make resolutions on behalf of other people and institutions. That way we get to take the moral high ground when they fail to follow through on the New Year’s promise. If by some miracle these common sense wishes for the oil and gas industry come to pass, we can then take credit for planting the seed, or at least for anticipating the individual’s enlightened decision on behalf of the country’s engine of prosperity.

And so, here goes.

1- I Resolve to Lift the Moratorium on West Coast Tanker Traffic- Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

I don’t know where the line in the Pacific Ocean is, but Trudeau drew one, saying that north of the line no tanker traffic could transport crude from a pipeline that he cancelled anyway. Now another pipeline through northern B.C. to the coast is being proposed, but there is no point in building it if the product can’t be shipped to foreign markets. With industry and First Nations on side, Justin can look pretty good by lifting the moratorium, and soon. As we all know, moratoria can last for a very long time (witness the Thomas Berger decision), and that is no way to build a nation.

2-  I Resolve not to Exceed My Mandate in Making Decisions, and Fringe Groups Shall Not Rule My Agenda- National Energy Board (collectively).

The NEB was seen as instrumental in a decision reached by TCPL to cancel the Energy East Pipeline. Instead of ruling on the merits of the pipeline, the NEB decided that it should rule on the downstream greenhouse effect of the barrels delivered to customers. It was music to the ears of those who hate the product but use it daily. We hope the NEB sees the light in the new year, because just before Christmas they decided to hold a two day hearing on a proposed 21 km. sweet gas line, citing an “elevated level of public interest.” They can’t please everybody, they’ll never please everybody, but at least they can employ some common sense.

3- I Resolve to Play Fair and Abide by the Laws of the Land- The Oil and Gas Industry.

There is a vocal minority out there that will never approve of what the industry does, regardless of how we do it. These hysterical few will then rub their hands in glee when a company steps out of line, especially when it has been proven negligent and deserves the full weight and wrath of the law to be leveled against it. Most of us in the oil and gas industry live in the community, work  onshore, and raise our families in our chosen provinces. We have no interest in fouling our nest, or in leaving our kids with the mess. That is why we can’t afford to take any shortcuts, to break or even bend any laws. We are good citizens, and we can’t tolerate the few bad apples that, in certain minds, tar us all with the same brush.

4- I Resolve to Stop Depressing Oil Prices by Adding More Production as OPEC Pledges to Cut Theirs- U.S. Shale Producers.

We love to hate OPEC, and they can be justly maligned for predatory practices, for propping up anti-democratic and terrorist regimes, for dumping oil and creating crises where none should exist.
However, the cartel has been making an effort, with certain member exemptions, to curtail their production in an effort to stabilize and then slowly increase the price of oil and gas. They have achieved substantial cuts through aggressive lobbying of their members, and though self-serving, at least the outcome will bring stability. It does the price of oil no good though, when a drop in production is promptly replaced by an increase in production by another jurisdiction. U.S. producers figure they’ll make hay while the sun shines, but they depress the price of their own product, and shale sands are subject to huge declines. How about instead of “go big and go home,” they adopt a more far sighted business model?

5- I Resolve to Regain Alberta’s Lead as the Preferred Place for Oil and Gas Investment, if not in the World, at least in Canada- Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

This is a big one. Ignoring the numbers as she rode to power on a wave of discontent in 2015, Notley and her rookies spent like drunken sailors while revenues declined. They implemented campaign promises that further cost the industry that makes Alberta work. From the friendliest investment climate in North America, we became a place to avoid. Notley seems to be getting the picture, but more because she sees political defeat than because of any hard-headed number crunching. All she really needs to see though, is the connection between revenue and the fulfillment of promises. If she would take some well-meaning advice from those who make their living in the industry, and also love and work in the province, she might yet turn our province from a pariah to a paragon.

So there we have it. It feels good to make promises on behalf of other people. I’m tired of making pledges to myself that make me feel guilty when I break them. With the above pledges duly registered, I can feel smug, a bit self-righteous, and more than a little proud of myself if even one of these resolutions stick.

Happy New Year!

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