My friends at the BOE Report dropped me a line to say that “you were right and do you have any comment?” Puzzled, I had to think for a moment. “You were right, back in September, when you wrote Pacific Northwest LNG: Canada is a day late and dollar short in this business.” Oh, right, I remember now. I have to be honest, I had nearly forgotten about the article I dashed off in a fit of pique when I saw and then wrote:
“Smiling politicians in Ottawa, Edmonton and Victoria will be slapping each other’s backs about how they were finally able to get a pipeline through the Rube Goldberg contraption (with apologies to Mr. Goldberg) that is the Canadian pipeline approval process. But it’s an approval – rather, an unvitation – to build a pipeline that virtually nobody in their right mind will build right now. But when anybody talks about future approvals going through – or more likely not going through – this is the one to which the politicos will point. We did that, they’ll say. They’ll point to a map and show us where the pipeline would have gone if it had made any sense to actually build it.”
I was inclined, however, to re-read the entirety of what I wrote back then and, well, as I’m fond of saying “if at some point you succeed, try and hide the surprise.” But setting all modesty aside for a moment, I did call it. Bang on. Bullseye. Before you think that may go to my head, I fully admit my ‘insight’ was really like the local weather reader predicting the end of a long, hot summer and that “winter is coming.” In other words, anybody with a grain of sense and only a slight knowledge of the industry could have seen this coming.
What is unforgivable is that we didn’t say so, en masse, at the time. Instead we seemingly all got swept up in the cheery photo op and let it paper over the gaping strategic holes in just about everything surrounding that project. Why didn’t we ask those tough questions back then? More importantly, why didn’t we act on the likely outcome, as opposed that which we naïvely wished it to be?
The biggest tragedy of all is that 10 months—nearly another year!—has gone by and we’re seemingly stuck in the same glue. As I said in the September article:
“The best thing we can do right now is finally (finally!) take a good long hard look in the mirror after the blackout beer binge and figure out what it is we need to do to survive. Make no mistake, we have only ourselves to blame for our current predicament.”
It was a good idea back then, and it’s an even better idea now.
Terence C. Gannon was an information technology professional for 36 years, 27 of those in the Calgary oil & gas industry at companies such as NCO, Sceptre, Fracmaster and Trican. He is currently writer, producer and host of The WorkNotWork Show and the Not There Yet podcasts, both on iTunes. But because he lives and breathes, he cannot help but return to offer unsolicited opinions about the industry which paid a lot of his bills over the years.