MPs' study of oil and gas industry benefits gets off to rocky start

A Natural Resources Committee study on the cross-Canada benefits of the oil and gas industry got off to a rocky start when federal bureaucrats came prepared to talk broadly about the entire Canadian energy sector.

First witnesses think study has broader focus, prepare presentation for entire energy sector

The Suncor Firebag oil sands facility seen near Fort McMurray, Alta. The federal Natural Resources Committee is studying the cross-Canada benefits of the oil and gas industry. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

MPs expecting to hear Thursday about the economic benefits of the oil and gas industry were surprised when bureaucrats instead came prepared to speak about the upside of Canada's entire energy sector.

Natural Resources Assistant Deputy Minister Jay Khosla apologized twice to members of the Natural Resources Committee for the confusion on the first day of a study into the cross-Canada benefits of developing the oil and gas industries.

"What I'm curious about is if we are doing a study on the benefits of developing the oil and gas industry, as you know, why would you do a presentation dated today on the economic benefits of the Canadian energy industry," asked Liberal committee member Geoff Regan. 

Visuals shown by Khosla's team mixed numbers for hydroelectric, tidal and other power sources with oil and gas.

"We're happy to talk about oil and gas, no question about that. The title of the study as it was handed to me is the cross-Canada benefits of developing the energy industry with an emphasis on oil and gas," explained Khosla.

He went on to point out that the energy sector in Canada is worth $26-billion and oil and gas makes up $22-billion of that.

Khosla also said that there are 300,000 jobs directly related to the energy industry in Canada with 150,000 spin-offs related to the industry. That was not broken down by sectors within the industry.

While Khosla's team gave some examples of benefits from the oil and gas industry to the country there was no overall breakdown for each province.

A 2011 report by the Canadian Energy Research Institute that projected benefits of the Alberta oilsands industry for the entire country showed province-by-province statistics. It made estimates for the time period of 2010 to 2035.

The CERI study found that 93 per cent of the monetary benefits and 82 per cent of the employment benefits from oilsands development would go to Alberta.

The Natural Resources Committee continues its study next week.


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