Oil industry group opens doors to renewable energy companies

After 35 years of lobbying for the best interests of the oil and gas industry, an organization representing those companies is now opening its doors to wind, solar and other renewable energy companies.

'The writing is on the wall,' says PSAC's president about embracing the green energy industry

PSAC now allows renewable energy companies to join the oil and gas organization 1:01

After more than 35 years of lobbying for the best interests of the oil and gas industry, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada is opening its doors to wind, solar and other renewable energy companies.

Call it a sign of the times.

Some of our companies have moved away from oilfield services. They're moving wind turbines, not drilling rigs.- Mark Salkeld, Petroleum Services Association of Canada

The Petroleum Services Association of Canada will keep its name, but made the change this week to welcome green energy companies.

"The writing is on the wall," PSAC's president Mark Salkeld said to CBC News. "Whether or not you believe in the climate change argument — doesn't matter. The fact is, renewables, alternatives, other energy resources are coming."

Salkeld acknowledges that several of the companies he represents already cater to the renewable energy industry or use technology, like solar, as part of their operations.

"We've got member companies that are changing their names from oilfield services to clean tech," said Salkeld.

The change originated back in the spring, when the organization held a strategic session about its future and brought in experts, including Peter Tertzakian, chief energy economist at ARC Financial. It became clear PSAC had to follow its members and look to the future. Tertzakian, in particular, has also urged oil companies to think about their industry in a changing world.

This week PSAC eliminated a rule for new members that required a company to earn at least 50 per cent of its revenue from providing oilfield services. Some existing members no longer meet that standard.

"Some of our companies have moved away from oilfield services. They're moving wind turbines, not drilling rigs," said Salkeld.

PSAC's new role is to support service companies focused on responsible energy development in Canada. 

The organization's membership took a hit with the drop in oil prices. PSAC had 235 members representing 60,000 employees before the crash two years ago. It now has 165 companies with 30,000 workers. 

Salkeld isn't sure how many solar and wind companies will join his organization, because they already have their own dedicated industry groups, but he said PSAC can offer its experience as a lobbyist, its connection with government, and its memberships' talents as entrepreneurs and innovators.

About the Author

Kyle Bakx

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Kyle Bakx is a Calgary-based journalist with CBC's network business unit. He's covered stories across the country and internationally.

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