Pro-pipeline rally greets attendees as Global Petroleum Show kicks off

Attendees to the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary were greeted by a pro-pipeline demonstration Tuesday, with demonstrators hoping to send a message to Ottawa with a federal decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project just a week away.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney kicks off conference with speech promising royalty guarantee

Pro-pipeline supporters rally at what organizers say was the "largest oil and gas rally in Canadian history" in Calgary on Tuesday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Attendees to the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary were greeted by a pro-pipeline demonstration Tuesday, with demonstrators hoping to send a message to Ottawa with a federal decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project just a week away.

The 51st annual show is billed as the world's leading energy conference, bringing together more than 50,000 attendees from more than 100 countries and more than 1,000 exhibitors. 

The Global Petroleum Show partnered with Canada Action, which organized the rally on the Calgary Stampede Grounds in support of the energy industry.

Organizer Cody Battershill said in advance they were hoping for a turnout of 5,000 people — a few thousand more than a similar rally last November when demonstrators shut down part of the downtown outside an event where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was speaking. Speakers on stage estimated the turnout at about 4,000. The Calgary Police Service estimated the crowd was 500 to 600 people.

Organizers said they anticipated thousands of people to turn out for a noon-time rally for Canadian energy at Stampede Park on Tuesday as the Global Petroleum Show gets underway. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

"With the Trans Mountain decision, with Bill C-69, Bill C-48 decisions coming up, we really have to make our voices heard to get our economy back on track," Battershill said.

The 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project between Alberta's oil patch and coastal B.C. would nearly triple the existing pipeline's capacity to 890,000 barrels a day. The federal government is to make a final decision on whether the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline can proceed by June 18, with a positive decision expected to accelerate attention to its vow to sell the asset it bought for $4.5 billion last summer.

A woman waves pro-oil and gas industry signs at the rally. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage told the rally that the recently elected United Conservative Party (UCP) government shares their commitment to promoting Canadian energy resources.

"We will take every possible step to show Canada and the world that we are open for business," she said.

One sign read 'The world needs more Canadian energy.' (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Ontario Minister of Energy Greg Rickford also spoke, saying it's important for all the provinces to work together.

"As Premier Kenney and [Ontario] Premier [Doug] Ford have both said, we can't be open for business in Ontario without a strong Alberta," he said.

"We've got to have oil and gas as part of our dynamic energy system."

Kenney kicks off conference with oilpatch promises

The Global Petroleum Show kicked off Tuesday morning with a speech from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who said his UCP government is committed to helping the province's struggling oilpatch get back on its feet.

Kenney announced that one way it plans to do that is with a new Royalty Guarantee Act, to be unveiled next week.

It follows on promises made during the election campaign that brought Kenney's party to power. 

"We know that one thing that causes investors to lose faith in a jurisdiction is uncertainty on regulations and on royalties," Kenney said.

"And I have to admit that happened in Alberta in recent years. And that's why we will be bringing forward legislation to provide long-term certainty that the royalty structure in place when a project is permitted will remain in place."

Kenney also reiterated his promise to cut provincial red tape by a third, using a program modelled on one that B.C. used to reduce the regulatory burden in that province.

He touted the planned roll-back of corporate tax rates as proof that Alberta is open for business, noting that he has already heard from major industry investors that it will bring dollars back into the economy.

"And we recently repealed the retail carbon tax, which is a saving of $1.4 billion, lifting of a dead-weight cost on our economy," he said.

Kenney said a levy on major industrial emitters will support research and development in better environmental practices in the industry.

Talking to reporters after his speech, the premier also said the provincial government had started talks with the private sector about Canadian oil producers taking over crude-by-rail contracts signed by the NDP.

Kenney is travelling east on Tuesday afternoon to meet with his provincial counterparts in Quebec, New Brunswick and P.E.I. as well as industry leaders and business groups.

Protester beats Kenney to podium

Just before the premier arrived at the podium following his introduction by master of ceremonies Danielle Smith, a protester rushed to the stage and tried to make a statement.

Proceedings were delayed for a few minutes as the man resisted security personnel and police officers, who finally wrestled him away from the podium as he continued to shout. 

"Well, that's not going to be the only protest today," joked Smith after the man was taken away. "There's actually going to be a pro-oil rally that's going to be happening later this afternoon."

The premier then told delegates there are very few energy producers in the world where something like this would happen, adding that Canada is a liberal democracy that embraces freedom of speech.

3-day conference

The three-day, strategic and technical conference is focused on three key themes, organizers say:

  • Transitioning toward the future.
  • Future-proofing the business model.
  • And focusing on Canada as the world's most responsible producer.

More than 1,000 companies, displays and equipment will be on site at Stampede Park, which is providing more than 460,000 square feet of exhibition space for the show.

"The energy industry is going through a period of change, and we're excited to be bringing to Calgary a world class exhibition and conference that can be a gathering place for all the key players and a showcase for the latest technology that is driving the future of oil and gas," conference vice-president Nick Samain, said in a release.


  • An earlier version of this story said the CPS estimated the crowd at the pro-pipeline rally at 400 to 500. In fact, the CPS estimated 500 to 600. Speakers on stage at the rally estimated the turnout at about 4,000.
    Jun 12, 2019 2:33 PM MT

With files from The Canadian Press


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