Credits: QMI Agency/Pascal Ratthé
We hear a lot of opposition to Canada’s oilsands, with some going as far as to say they should be shut down.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark wants her fair share of the resource revenue.
Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair says the oilsands cause “Dutch Disease” and harm Canada’s export industry, and his caucus colleague, Linda Duncan, wants a tough new regulatory regime that would significantly slow down development.
The political discourse seems to be inspired by emotions and visceral reactions. Public opinion is woefully misled, not just about the industry but about the benefits for our entire country. Perhaps this is the fault of the oil companies themselves, which have not led the discussions on oilsands development, but instead allowed politicians and activists to manipulate the issue for political gains.
The facts reveal the most compelling argument for the development of this resource and as Canadians become more aware of the economic realities of the oilsands, they become more supportive of development. Opinions should be based on fact, so I’ve dug up the key, must-know facts about our oilsands. Canada has the third largest proven oil reserves in the world — 174 billion barrels, enough to meet our domestic energy needs for 400 years — and 97% of these reserves are located in Canada’s oilsands.
Juxtapose this golden goose with a sharp global increase in energy demand. As developed and emerging economies grow, the global demand for oil is expected to increase by 40% within 25 years.
Canada already exports more than 2.1 million barrels of oil per day. And yet, current barriers to global markets — including a lack of physical infrastructure — costs the Canadian economy approximately $40 million dollars per day. Yes, because of a lack of pipelines, our economy loses $40 million dollars each day.
The forecasted economic contribution of new oilsands development is expected to top $2.1 trillion to the Canadian economy over the next 25 years, about $84 billion per year. That’s $2,106,000,000,000 of new money into our economy. And $783 billion in taxes and royalties will be collected over the next 25 years — $122 billion in provincial taxes and $311 billion in federal.
It’s funny how folks who call for bigger government and more social programs are also most likely to oppose our oilsands. By 2035, 905,000 people will work in the Canadian oil and gas industry. These companies will generate $117 billion in economic benefits outside of Alberta over the next 25 years.
So what exactly do Canadians object to? Many will say it’s an environmental safety concern because they don’t want tanker ships off our pristine Canadian coasts. But oil tankers have been moving safely and regularly along Canada’s West Coast since the 1930s, and 580 million barrels of oil are safely shipped off Canada’s East and West coasts using tanker ships. So, pipelines are the concern? But there are already thousands of kilometres of pipelines in Canada.
It’s tough to argue with facts. Opinions can be based on emotion, ideology, or just a lack of information.
Many Canadians are simply not exposed to these facts. They are in the dark, partially because the media and many politicians don’t report the net benefits of oil industry, our historic development and exports, and just how key this industry really is to Canada.