Canada and the UK are well established oil and gas producers with a history of innovation and success from which to build on. The UK is Canada’s third largest investor, with investment more than doubling over the last decade to $56 billion Canadian dollars. The UK is also Canada’s second biggest destination for investment abroad, with investment currently at eighty-six billion Canadian dollars. Relative established business parallels, secure markets and investments make the two regions a match for business development. With the EU/Canada Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement now coming into play, the opportunities are even more exciting and business will increase to billions of new activity in the future.
Working with the UK Trade and Investment Authority, in November, 2014, I had the privilege of visiting London and Aberdeen to get a wide-scale overview of the energy opportunities in the region. One thing is clear, there is extreme knowledge and advances in the industry and that is the foundation for what is about to happen in the region – mature growth. The other thing that’s clear is that there are many players with many views and when those views come together collaboratively, and with a sustainable energy future in mind – great things will happen.
One of the events I attended during that visit was the Canada-Europe Energy Summit held at the prestigious British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. During the event Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Energy in London, addressed the contingency on matters of the dynamic relationship between Canada and the UK. He said, “Canadian companies such as Talisman, Nexen-CNOOC, Canadian Natural Resources and Suncor play a vital role in the economy of our North Sea. These companies have invested in the region because the North Sea remains a productive place to do business. Contrary to some opinions about decline in the North Sea, the North Sea has a strong overall smorgasbord of varying opportunities that can only get better with technological advancement and industry collaboration.”
Minister Hancock addressed investment saying, “The UK is also an incredibly important contributor to the energy sector in Canada. Shell and BP contribute to Canada’s economic strength, at the cutting edge of efforts to promote and deliver innovation in the energy sector, both individually, contributing to the work of COSIA, in the oil sands, off Nova Scotia, and supporting efforts on Carbon Capture and Storage in Canada. UK company AMEC has been in Canada for over a century, and has been involved in virtually every major mineable oil sands development in the last 25 years. Centrica, which owns British Gas in the UK, has been expanding and is now a top ten gas producer in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, investing over $1 billion primarily in natural gas assets.”
British companies have an active energy industry supply chain across Canada. There’s more room for that expertise to cross over in the upcoming development with the Offshore Newfoundland plays, as well as Western Canada’s on land oil and gas projects. That spells out more opportunity for leading British companies making a positive difference in Canada’s energy supply sector. The UK energy industry’s success has positioned them as global leaders in subsea engineering, project management, design engineering, asset and operational management, research and development, safety management, and training and education.
Minister Hancock adds, “The British Columbian government’s plans to see major LNG operations active in the coming decade are impressive. Shell and BG are among the list of major companies actively developing projects ahead of Final Investment Decision.”
Shale gas production onshore has the potential to increase the UK’s energy security, jobs and economic growth and is a top priority for many of the government and industry partners involved.
Energy government officials in Canada and the UK highly value the discussions on safe and sustainable development of UK shale resources. UK officials have now embarked on a secondment from the Department to Alberta’s Energy Regulator, to enhance cooperation with Canada on shale gas, and to deliver the long history of Canadian expertise with Shale to the UK. This transfer of regulation, technology, systems and methodology will set the foundation for the UK Shale industry and will be another tie-strengthening relation between Canada and the UK.
Developing our resources in the most sustainable fashion is the key to our future and one of those solutions is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Recent analysis suggests that for the UK, successfully deploying CCS could cut the annual cost of meeting their carbon targets by over thirty-two billion pounds by 2050.
“The Carbon Capture and Storage plays are still in their infancy but we have two very important developments setting the stage for what’s to come. First, in Saskatchewan, SaskPower flipped the on switch on unit 3 of the Boundary Dam power plant – the world’s first coal-fired power plant fitted with CCS on a commercial scale. Canada’s leadership is showing the rest of the world that CCS is viable at scale and is happening. We are playing our part. Shell, with support from the Albertan government, is developing its “Quest” project at one of its oil sands processing sites which could reduce emissions by a million tonnes of CO2 a year. Second, in the UK there are two projects – White Rose and Peterhead – working to see if we can make CCS work too. They are making good progress on their planning and engineering studies so that final investment decisions can be taken early in 2016.” Concludes Minister Hancock.
During my visit to the UK I had the opportunity to meet Sir Ian Wood in Aberdeen. Sir Ian was tasked with an important review of the activity in the North Sea and how to pave the way for success ahead. Sir Ian concluded that with the right architecture, recovery of an additional three to four billion barrels of oil and gas could boost the UK economy by two hundred billion pounds over the next 20 years.
I have a signed copy of Sir Ian’s review on my desk and it’s a pleasant reminder of the wisdom and determination of the UK to create a new portfolio of developments with a defined strategy and industry acumen.
Many changes are taking place from new regulators to improved collaboration between existing operates, to dispute resolution mechanisms, new tax and fiscal regimes, and new methods for optimizing assets and performance. It’s an era that’s shifting from exploration and production to a matured industry of very strategic growth initiatives. The industry is coming together to be even more creative than before, and a whole new network of communication is being generated that has success for all as the desired outcome. Now that’s sustainable.
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