Notley's Bill 12 'shows bold leadership,' say Alberta oil and gas producers
Industry officials say it's unfortunate, but proposed law is necessary to protect Alberta's interests
Alberta's oil and gas producers are calling Bill 12 a regrettable but necessary step in the battle over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Bill 12, titled Preserving Canada's Economic Prosperity Act, gives the Alberta government the ability to retaliate against B.C. over any delays to the expansion by driving up gas prices or restricting shipments of other energy products.
While industry officials support the move, they hope the legislation revealed by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd on Monday doesn't need to be put to work.
Mark Sholz, of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, welcomes the proposed legislation.
"I think it's very prudent and shows bold leadership on the part of the premier, and it's certainly something we're supporting as a direction or a strategy."
- Alberta unveils bill that could wreak havoc on B.C. gas prices in trade war
- Alberta willing to buy Trans Mountain pipeline if necessary, premier says
Sholz said it's too bad it has come to this point, but everything possible needs to be done to ensure the pipeline expansion is built.
"We need to ensure this pipeline gets built, and I think additional pressure to the government of British Columbia is important and it's a very meaningful signal, an impactful signal from the Alberta government," he said.
"It's unfortunate that consumers are the ones that are going to have to pay for the irresponsible decisions and the foot dragging of the B.C. government."
Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said Alberta's hand was forced and producers are on board with Bill 12. But he noted that if the legislation is enacted, it wouldn't just hurt B.C.
"Any disruption would have further effects on our industry, and I think it comes down to short-term challenges for long-term gain. Our preference is that we don't have barriers getting our product to market, short or long term," he said.
"Any time there is a barrier getting the product to market, it hurts the economics in Western Canada and has an effect on jobs."
'Regrettable it's come to this'
Gary Leach, president of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC), echoed McMillan's sentiments, and said he hopes the government handles any enactment of Bill 12 with "some skills" to avoid too much negative impact on Alberta's energy producers.
"But, I think at this point this impasse with British Columbia has to be brought to an end as quickly as possible. So our view is that it's regrettable it's come to this, but we would support the government at least acquiring the legal tools to defend Alberta's interests if necessary."
Another key industry group, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), said in a statement that while it understands Bill 12 has become necessary, it's concerned the measures could have unintended consequences.
"We hope that the measures will not need to be implemented and that we are able to find a prompt resolution to the current impasse that reflects the needs and concerns of industry and other stakeholders," CEPA president Chris Bloomer said.
- Risky business: Trans Mountain twist pits shareholders against taxpayers
- Notley gains more federal backing as Trans Mountain deadlock wears on
Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd said she met with representatives of more than 100 oil and gas companies on Friday, before announcing the legislation.
"This isn't something we want to use, but we're absolutely prepared to use it," she told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday.
"We're not going to use it without consulting with our companies first — and also, we're not going to play our cards up front."
All three industry officials said they want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stay true to his word that legislation is forthcoming to make the project happen.
"The federal government has the authority on this pipeline and all international projects," Leach said.
"Yesterday [Sunday], they put out an action plan that we should be expecting in the days to come implementing legislation that clarifies and allows them to assert their authority to ensure this project can get built."
With files from Rachel Ward and the Calgary Eyeopener.