Edmonton

Diversifying oil and gas sector task of new committee

The seven-person panel will be chaired by Jeanette Patell, government affairs and policy leader with GE Canada, and Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Panel will cost government $150K, report expected by fall 2017

Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous and Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd announced the new Energy Diversification Advisory Panel at the Alberta legislature Thursday. (CBC )

The Alberta government has appointed an advisory panel to give advice on how to diversify the oil and gas sector.

The seven-person panel will be chaired by Jeanette Patell, government affairs and policy leader with GE Canada, and Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. McGowan is also a former federal NDP candidate.

The panel will look at ways to encourage investment in value-added energy processing.

The panel has one year to deliver its report to Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd at a cost of $150,000. 

"For us, diversification is about exploring new frontiers and finding ways to raise the bar in areas we already excel," said Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous.

The Economic Diversification Advisory Panel joins other panels advising the government including:

  • the Climate Technology Task Force
  •  the Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel
  • the Advisory Panel on Coal Communities
  • the Premier's Advisory Committee on the Economy
  • the Oil Sands Advisory Group.
  • Workers Compensation Review Panel
  • Farm and Ranch legislation working groups 

When asked if the government is using panels to give the impression they are taking action on the economy, Bilous said he thinks panels are a good way to consult with different groups.  

Advice taken seriously

The government has used advice from panels that reviewed Alberta's royalty structure and made recommendations for a plan to combat climate change, he said.

"We do take their advice seriously," he said.

"We are engaging with these panels to provide so that our government can move forward and make the right decisions."

"The energy industry has changed a lot in the last two years," McCuaig-Boyd said. "We're at a perfect time to look at other opportunities."

Wildrose energy critic Leela Aheer wonders what effect the panel will have on investors.

"Striking another panel, it puts everything off. It slows everything down," she said. "Anybody who's wanting to invest right now...they want to know they can get in, they want to know they understand the regulations."

Amber Ruddy, Alberta director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, decried the appointment of "union boss" Gil McGowan. She wanted more representation from small business on the panel. 

"This government has an agenda in mind and they are clearly soliciting the advice of people that support that agenda," Ruddy said. 

The committee was a recommendation that came out of the royalty review panel which delivered a report earlier this year.

Members of the committee: 

  • Jeanette Patell, co-chair government affairs and policy leader, GE Canada
  • Gil McGowan, co-chair, president, Alberta Federation of Labour
  • Carol Moen, registrar, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
  • Warren Fraleigh, executive director, Building Trades of Alberta
  • Leo de Bever. chairman, Oak Point Energy
  • Marie C. Robidoux, principal consultant for Aboriginal Relations and Business Development
  • Rocky Sinclair, CEO, Alberta Indian Investment Corporation

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