Premier of Alberta and leader of the UCP Jason Kenney is signalling to Washington that he is still interested in a pipeline to move North American energy products given what he calls “the Americans’ desperate need for more reliable energy.”
Speaking at the Heavy Oil Show in Lloydminster, regarding the loss of the Keystone XL pipeline, he says a lot of the work has been done and the province is presently in a joint-venture with TC Energy. While a lot of the equipment has been auctioned off, there is pipe and related infrastructure in the ground, so if they can get some certainty from Washington, he thinks “they can get it done.”
“The capital markets are unlikely to back this given all of the political uncertainty. So if the U.S. is really serious about this, instead of positioning a carrier group in the Persian Gulf to protect OPEC’s supply, how about investing a fraction of that in a state-investment in re-starting KXL. Make it a state-owned enterprise, I don’t like doing that, but if it’s necessary so be it. We could potentially go in on a joint-venture. Capitalize it. Go to the market. Let mid-stream companies bid on it and build it. And I think that could get done in 18-months.”
He says that is the exact strategy that the federal government used with the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
Kenney touched on the application that the Pathways Alliance has for the allocation of pore space for carbon storage around Cold Lake. He was careful with his comments as the matter is still awaiting regulatory approval.
“There is enormous pore space around the Cold Lake area. That is where the Pathways application is primarily. I don’t think there are any competitors. The Pathways oilsands companies have approached us collectively on that. They’re not in competition with one another. They’re working together. So I am very bullish about that, but I can’t go any further than that.”
Turning to the energy sector advocating for itself, Kenney says there was a vacuum between the signing of the Kyoto agreement and the start of the anti-oil sands campaign. He says the sector is focussed on what it does best when it comes to innovation, technology and finance, essentially its core activity, but needs to deal more with the court of public opinion.
He commends the current moves to respond to these challenges.
“I think the Pathways initiative is a major change and that’s good, but we would just encourage a more assertive approach generally, and we are doing our part. When I first met with the oil and gas CEOs, shortly after becoming premier, my message was ‘they need to step up their advocacy.’ Their message to me was that they are facing serious challenges raising capital because of ESG.”
He said they have worked together with the sector creating an ESG or environmental, social and governance secretariat at the heart of the government. He says while “they need to be partners”, he feels the sector can always “do more.”
With the UCP leadership election results coming out on Oct. 6, the party will be announcing its replacement for Kenney, who chose to step away from the helm citing that a 51.4 per cent approval rating was not enough for him to stay on as leader.
The outgoing premier is musing on his next steps saying that he is 54-years old and way too young to be retiring.
“I go a bit stir-crazy if I’m not doing something. So I am looking forward to future challenges. I’ve been in elected office for 25-years, which is basically a life sentence in the judicial system, so I’m looking forward to parole.”