Saturday, November 8, 2008

The barking tail of the dog


Ed Stelmach the bumptious premier of Alberta was in the news again this week, responding to Harpers somewhat premature overtures to Obama about seeking a joint climate change pact.

Either Ed has some doubts about Harper’s sincerity in protecting the tar sands production or he just can not help himself, which I sadly believe is the case.

In typical Ed like fashion he decided to rub the tar sands in Obamas face.
Premier Ed Stelmach has a message for United States president-elect Barack Obama: You need Alberta's oilsands to provide cheap energy to help the sagging American economy.

To provide that hope and to provide progress that is going to ease some of the pressures that people are experiencing today, he's going to need affordable energy.
Ed also had a message for Harper...
Stelmach said Albertas voice needs to be heard because any deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have a significant impact on major energy projects in the province.
and the rest of Canada.
Whatever the agreement is it has to be fair to Albertans, who own the resources, and that's why we have to be at the table
Unfortunately, Ed, I believe there are some flaws in your logic here, not to mention your timing and your typically poor execution.
The Americans are your largest customer and if they decide to use oil from cleaner production sources (if there was any way to actually determine the source) it is your problem Ed not theirs.
There are other sources for oil Ed. Apparently 40% of the world’s yet to be discovered oil is suspected to be sitting under the western deserts of Iraq.

I somehow think that the US, even under Obama’s new administration will have no qualms about accessing that so called lighter crude. Rightly or wrongly, they probably believe that they have earned the right.
And about the affordable price part.
With oil being a traded commodity, price becomes more of a concern for the supply side versus the demand side, you know Exxon and the like. At $40 a barrel to convert tar sands to crude versus $8 a barrel to suck light oil out of the desert, your pricing argument seems to be misdirected if not pointless.
But I do agree that Alberta deserves a voice at the bargaining table.
However the importance of your voice should be proportionate to the size of your population not the size of your oil reserves.

A new North American climate pact will affect us all.
And lastly, although this might be a mute point, I don’t know if you can still claim to own the resources after you have sold the rights to develop them.
I believe that the oil companies tend to claim ownership of the reserves or at least get to list them on their financial statements and then, unfortunately you relegated to the role of say, a commissioned sales rep, left to go out and shill for the vendor.
Or at least that is the way it seems.



Reference: Obama and U.S. need tarsands oil: Alberta premier, CTV here.

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