Today, the National Energy Board announced that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the national interest and should be approved for construction. While the announcement is positive, CAODC is not optimistic it is meaningful, due to the project’s history of delays and the politicized nature of the federal approval process.
“What we heard today—that the TMX should be built and is in Canada’s national interest—is exactly what we heard when the federal government purchased the project in 2018,” notes CAODC President and CEO Mark Scholz. “This black hole of approvals sends a confusing message to industry, investors, and the international oil and gas market.”
Since 2014 the Permian Basin in the United States has recovered by 90% due to strategic energy policy and increased investment, while in Canada, the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin has not yet reached a 50% recovery. As Canada’s oil and gas sector faces a breaking point, recent events in Ottawa suggest politics are at play when it comes to the success of certain industries.
In 2018, to help protect jobs in the construction sector, the federal government legislated remediation agreements allowing companies accused of crimes to defer prosecution and continue to compete. Yet, in the same year, the federal government also introduced Bills C-48 and C-69 to increase the regulatory burden on Canada’s oil and gas industry, throwing additional roadblocks in front of a project it had just purchased with taxpayer dollars.
“After today’s announcement, it seems clear that balancing the environment, economy, and the judicial system is subject to whims and politics of the day,” asserts Scholz. “The federal government appears happy to go the extra mile for some companies and industries, while remaining inflexible and hiding behind process for others. This type of preferential treatment is dangerous, and categorically unfair to Canadians.”
The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) represents Canada’s drilling and service rig industry.