PO BLOG

Pipeline Dialogue

Published in November, 2019

One of the ways CEPA listens to different perspectives

Submitted by the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA)

Canada’s transmission pipelines connect Canadians to safe and responsible energy. Members of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) reach a broad and inclusive geography with pipelines spanning 118, 000 kilometres in Canada. Given that significant reach, it’s important for CEPA to engage with a broad and inclusive group of stakeholders. That is the main driver behind Pipeline Dialogue events.

The first Pipeline Dialogue was held in Calgary in 2018, with a focus on what the pipeline industry can do to improve trust and transparency. One of the outcomes was a challenge to the industry to participate in, and articulate its place in, the future energy picture for Canada. Building on that feedback, CEPA held a second Dialogue in Montreal in March 2019. The topic this time was the future of energy in Eastern Canada (Quebec and the Atlantic provinces).

Stakeholders from academia, think-tanks, landowners/agriculture and industry convened to explore a range of topics, including the extent to which eastern Canadians see a need to access oil and natural gas from Western Canada, and for further pipeline development.  

No generic “eastern issues”

Early in the conversation, it became clear that attitudes and perspectives toward oil, natural gas and pipelines differ across eastern sub-regions — in other words, there are no “eastern issues.” Participants flagged multiple reasons for regionalized differences in attitudes and perspectives, including:

  • Differing definitions of energy, based on the provinces’ main sources of energy supply — e.g. hydro in Quebec versus fossil fuels in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
  • The cost of energy. For instance, in Atlantic Canada, where energy costs are high, there’s a greater interest in gaining access to alternative sources of energy, as well as ensuring stable energy pricing and reliable supply.
  • The way local politics, economics and safety-related incidents shape the attitudes of today.

Oil and gas development and climate change

Participants also explored a range of topics, among them the question: “How can we continue to develop our oil and natural gas industry and still address climate change?”

The topic resonated with participants and generated robust discussion. It became clear that more work needs to be done to create greater public awareness of the energy sector’s progress in addressing climate and environmental issues.

In the words of CEPA President and CEO Chris Bloomer, “We must consider climate change in what we do, and we need to communicate more effectively about what the industry is doing to address the issue — including how we fit into the solution.”

A wealth of ideas to consider

In addition to considering climate change in industry activities and decisions, three of the Dialogue’s many take-aways were:

  1. A call for regional and national leadership to build an energy vision and strategy to guide the oil and gas and pipeline industries into the future.
  2. The need for more effective education and communication as part of a joint industry effort to share a coherent, factual story about the industry’s breakthroughs, achievements, and commitments.
  3. The notion of creating an energy corridor, where energy infrastructure projects could move ahead without lengthy approval processes and have reduced environmental, social and economic impacts.

This feedback is extremely important as CEPA and its members look to the future. Canada is a world-leader in responsible energy production and transportation, and many opportunities exist as countries around the globe move toward a lower-carbon future.

This is a critical time, and CEPA looks forward to continuing to engage with landowners, Indigenous communities, environmental advocates and industry leaders who can think critically, and who can challenge and communicate the narrative about the future of oil and natural gas in Canada.

Published in PIPELINE OBSERVER FALL 2019