Jim Reiter in Estevan in September, 2020, for the opening of the newly restored drug addiction treatment centre. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

ST. JOHN’S – The federal, provincial and territorial energy ministers just met in their annual conference, and Saskatchewan’s minister was wholly unimpressed with the result.

Minister of Energy and Resources Jim Reiter spoke to Pipeline Online from St. John’s just after getting out of the conference on July 7, and he was rather incredulous that the federal government hardly even wanted to mention the word “oil” in their drafts of the final communique.

This, despite the fact that the Ukraine war has Europe crying out for energy that is not sourced from Russia.

The 2022 meeting of the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference (EMMC) was held in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“There were some good discussions in some areas,” Reiter said, but noted disappointment otherwise. “People are concerned right now with inflation, affordability questions. We’re concerned about the oil and gas industry and there was, there was so little (discussion about that). Both myself and the Alberta Minister raised issues around oil and producing oil and, and the world needing clean Canadian oil. And it just seemed apparent to me that the federal government didn’t want to talk about that.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had indicated in the early days of the war that Canada would bolster oil production. But those words wrung hollow for Reiter, coming out of the conference. Asked if they were just empty words, Reiter said, “You know, in a lot of ways it is, because they’re paying lip service to it. I didn’t see the final draft, but the release that the federal minister and the host minister in Newfoundland had, I saw an earlier draft of it, and the word oil isn’t even in it. It’s like they’re trying to avoid saying the word. And yet, to your point, geopolitical situation today, the tragedy in Ukraine. I mean, the world needs clean Canadian oil. We have difficulty getting it to market. And we’ve got a federal government that, frankly, is anti oil.”

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The wording of the final press release mentioned oil just once – referencing a discussion with International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol, and “Europe’s desire to displace Russian oil and gas imports with lower carbon alternatives from secure and reliable trading partners such as Canada.”

But the meat of the press release included this paragraph:

Accelerating the shift to more affordable, reliable, and clean energy systems for Canada and the world. All ministers acknowledged Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on energy and related products has fundamentally altered the global energy landscape. Ministers discussed the need to support our allies in Europe by increasing exports of energy products. They explored different solutions to the affordability challenges that high gas and energy prices present to Canadians, including increasing the supply of clean electricity that will power the cars, homes and industry of the net-zero future. Minister Wilkinson called on his counterparts to urgently develop plans to achieve a net-zero electricity grid by 2035, including by sharing data and best practices, and supporting the work of the Pan-Canadian Grid Council.”

The quote from federal Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson said, “By working together, provinces, territories, the federal government, and key Indigenous partners can collectively accelerate economic activity and position Canada as an economic leader in the global shift towards a low-carbon future. I would like to thank my provincial and territorial counterparts for their collaborative efforts as we work towards our common objectives.”

Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, March 3, 2022. Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says Canada can produce and export another 300,000 barrels a day of oil and natural gas to help the world displace Russian fossil fuels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickMinister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, March 3, 2022. Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says Canada can produce and export another 300,000 barrels a day of oil and natural gas to help the world displace Russian fossil fuels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

That didn’t wash with Reiter.

“The thing that keeps popping into my head is it tends to be lip service. Yeah, yeah, it’s a priority. We do it, but nothing ever changes. We keep putting policies into place that hinder development, getting it to market. And it’s a huge problem,” Reiter said.

Asked what the federal government could have said to make Saskatchewan happy, Reiter said, “I think frankly, need to do is sincerely need to sit down with the oil producing provinces and see what we need to do.

“There’s a number of issues in the way. Part of the issue should be discussing what we do about pipelines. Part of the issue should be oil companies, especially the small producers, having trouble accessing capital, they’ve been saying. We should be looking at those sorts of things, talking to the producers seeing what they need. They could be putting incentives in place for enhanced oil recovery. Instead, they seem like they don’t want to support it. So there’s a number of things they could do.”

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In his own release, Reiter said, “Although there were productive discussions in some areas, unfortunately, it was a missed opportunity for the federal government to have important conversations addressing global energy shortages with the jurisdictions who are ultimately responsible for overseeing oil and gas production and regulations.

“Rather than imposing unachievable, baseless targets and caps on industry, the Trudeau government needs to work with them to build infrastructure and get our sustainable products to market.”

The Government of Saskatchewan release noted, “Current federal policies hurt jobs, limit production, pass costs onto consumers, and keep Canada dependent on energy products from countries with poor environmental and human rights standards, according to the Ministry. A recent Parliamentary Budget Officer report shows that 60 per cent of households will end up financially worse off when looking at the full cost impact of the carbon tax. Prohibiting generation from fossil fuels under the clean electricity standard will put Saskatchewan’s reliable natural gas power sources at risk, with no proven alternatives. The proposed clean fuel standard will increase the price of gasoline and diesel, costing the average Canadian household $132 to $301 a year by 2030.”

The Government of Saskatchewan said it is committed to expanding the province’s export infrastructure. Lack of pipeline capacity in Western Canada costs Saskatchewan’s producers billions each year and diminishes industry’s ability to get essential products to market. Saskatchewan supports the Alberta Court of Appeal’s ruling that the federal Impact Assessment Act for approving these resource projects is unconstitutional.

 

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  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
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