Canada is successfully walking the tightrope in energy transition, with renewable power and carbon-capture projects while still investing in and developing its ample oil and natural gas resources, from the Alberta oil sands to offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadian officials said Aug. 17.
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"We want to secure a strong North American energy supply," said Rachel McCormick, the Canadian consul general for Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arkansas, said at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. Roughly 75% of Canada's clean energy technology is coming from the oil and gas sector, she said.
While integrated energy players such as Shell and Total Energies have either sold or written off their Canadian oil sands assets in recent years because of climate change concerns, North American companies now are leading the exploration and production of Canada's crude oil. And Canadian crude production this year has recovered from and exceeded its pre-pandemic volumes.
In the meantime, investments are growing in everything from a larger base of renewable power within Canada's electric grid to plans for a series of carbon pipelines and sequestration hubs to reduce the emissions from the ongoing development of fossil fuels.
Late last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled Canada's goals for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. But, simultaneously, Canada is not turning away from Alberta's resources, which are described as the world's third-largest crude oil reserves behind only Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, both of which are state-operated.
In Alberta, two of Canada's largest pipeline operators, TC Energy and Pembina Pipeline, recently partnered to develop a network of infrastructure, called the Alberta Carbon Grid, to carry and sequester carbon emissions in Alberta as early as 2025.
Very soon, the Alberta crude pipeline bottleneck into the US should soon be relieved with the startup of Enbridge's Line 3 replacement project possibly in late September or October, largely making up for the cancelation of the controversial Keystone XL project.
Rahul Sharma, Alberta trade relations director, touted Canada's longstanding price on carbon, as well as a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per barrel versus a decade ago.
In British Columbia, officials touted further greening the electric grid through hydro power and other renewable energy sources, while also investing heavily in an electric vehicle charging infrastructure. But Vancouver and the rest of British Columbia will receive a lot more crude oil and play a bigger roll in liquids exports when the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion nearly triples crude capacity from 300,000 b/d to 890,000 b/d at the end of 2022.
Despite current drought problems, conventional hydro resources provide about 26% of the current operating capacity in the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, or WECC, reliability region, which covers the Western US and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.
On Canada's Atlantic Coast, Lacee Abbott, marketing chief with the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Industry, Energy and Technology, said the offshore oil and gas production has some of the lowest carbon emissions in the world. Also, renewable energy is increasingly powering those operations, she said.
Abbott repeatedly touted the ongoing development of the Hibernia oil field.
"Our offshore is actually one of the only ones that can help achieve the [net-zero] goal through lower-emission production," Abbott said.
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