Are oil sands companies looking for more time, more money, or both?

“Slowly and steadily win the race.” This is the key takeaway from Aesop’s fable of the turtle and the hare, and what generations of parents have tried to teach their children. It forms the basis of the oil and gas industry’s latest attempt to oppose climate policy. And unlike previous stances that include denying the existence of climate change or suggesting that Canada can’t do much about it, this may actually work.

On the positive side, at least they’re finally acknowledging the scale of the problem.In a recent article earth and mailPathways Alliance CEO Kendall Dilling said: 2050.

But the large oil sands companies his organization represents cannot rush to cut these emissions anytime soon, he argued. “Unrealistic timeframes for emissions reduction targets could push investment away from our industry and our country, reducing production in Canada and increasing production and emissions in other countries. .”

Never mind that these other fictional countries almost certainly emit less per barrel than Canada. This means a net reduction in global inventories. Let’s put aside the fact that it’s a reckless story about Ask any Quebec citizen who was in the 1970s and his 1980s how separatism was good at attracting investment to the state.

The bigger problem here is that the industry and its various lobby groups still don’t seem to understand the kind of competition they’re running, or the pace at which competitors are trying to move away from them. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will accelerate the US clean energy sector, including the development of carbon capture and storage projects. The war in Ukraine has awakened Europe to the existential threat posed by its dependence on gas imports from Russia and has responded by accelerating its phase-out timetable. Even Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest oil exporters on the planet, is betting big on electric vehicles and battery technology.

Pathways companies also don’t seem to understand what some of the larger institutional investors really want. Yes, they want stability, certainty and above all profitability. But they also have pledges on emissions reductions and net-zero commitments that must be followed. As the Pembina Institute pointed out in his 2022 report, get on track“Oil sands producers must show significant progress in emission reduction strategies to keep investment capital flowing into the sector.”

In other words, they need to do more than wreck the pack and stall time. It seems that. As the Pembina Institute report notes, “To achieve net zero, participating companies assume that they will rely heavily on strategies that are not technically or economically viable until 2030 and beyond. To be credible, any progress made by oil sands companies in the vision document submitted must be accompanied by detailed plans and consistent with Canada’s commitment to achieve 40-45% economy-wide emission reductions by 2030. there is.”

Instead, oil sands companies want Canadians to trust them and their efforts to reduce emissions, even though emissions have increased by nearly 140% since 2005. Despite much talk about innovation and commitment to environmental stewardship, the problems caused by toxic tailings ponds continue to grow. “Decades of operation, increased oil sands production, technological challenges and the impact of untreated processes have slowed down,” said Deborah Jalemko of the Canadian Energy Center. A large amount of tailings accumulates in Alberta due to regulatory requirements to store treated water.

So why can we trust them to clean up their greenhouse gas emissions? For these middle-aged senior executives of oil companies, it may not be a problem to take it slow on the emissions reduction agenda. , it’s bad for the long-term health of the companies they run (regardless of the state, country, or world they live in) and will ultimately lead to lower global oil demand and higher costs. The double woes of rising carbon producers must be faced.

It is not clear whether these oil sands companies and their supporters want more time, more money, or both. I hold them accountable for their commitments and responsible for keeping them in races where they don’t seem very interested in running.

Are oil sands companies looking for more time, more money, or both?

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