Canada stuck on sidelines as U.S. oil boom creates jobs, curbs emissions

Claudia Cattaneo
Claudia Cattaneo

Claudia Cattaneo: The U.S. oil sector is booming, while our oil and gas sector is looking forward to another year of uncertainty, low prices and increasing tax burdens

Oil prices are rallying, but instead of reaping the benefits Canadian oil and gas producers are stuck on the sidelines while their American counterparts are riding them with all they’ve got.

Indeed, a tale of two oil and gas sectors is emerging. On the Canadian side, the mood is subdued, budgets for 2018 are flat relative to last year, and job creation has taken a back seat to automation.

The Canadian sector is held back by pipeline bottlenecks that are depressing both oil and gas prices (WTI rose near US$64 a barrel Thursday, while Western Canadian Select was trading just above US$37), governments that are more concerned about transitioning to renewable energy, investors who’ve moved on to better and faster opportunities elsewhere.

On the U.S. side, optimism is strong, thanks to the U.S. industry’s success in producing shale gas and tight oil and in crushing barriers to export the new production globally, plus support from a president whose only concern about fossil fuels is that there should be more.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute (API), reflected the U.S. industry’s buoyancy in his annual state of the industry address this week.

“We have taken the nation from energy scarcity to energy abundance, from making products abroad to a rebirth of U.S. manufacturing,” he said in Washington Tuesday. “From energy as a major pocketbook issue to lower gasoline, diesel, electricity and home heating costs. And today we are increasing development as we’re contributing to lower greenhouse gas emissions – a reality many believed was implausible, if not impossible.”

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