Developing An Energy Transition Framework


There’s so much transition activity in Canada’s oil and gas industry, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of it all.

Everyone is so busy innovating, accelerating, transforming, evolving, decarbonizing and transitioning, that very few people are actually tracking what’s going on across the spectrum.

We’re also talking a lot about how the world “needs more Canadian energy.”

Imagine then, someone developing an energy transition framework of sorts — one that helps neatly organize and connect all Canada’s various “transition dots” into something that resembles a coherent narrative — a narrative that also tangibly and practically defines what Canada can do on the world stage.

For that, Canada’s “net zero ecosystem” owes some thanks to the World Petroleum Council (WPC) and its Canadian arm, WPC Canada. Between the global and domestic teams, the technical program developed for the WPC’s 24th Congress in Calgary in September 2023 and its, theme Energy Transition: Pathway to Net Zero, reads like a scorecard on which Canada could register some important points.

Across four theme blocks and 17 thematically connected forums, the Congress’s technical program encapsulates key transition themes and organizes them in a way that resembles a macro-pathway of sorts, itself defined by a series of connected smaller pathways.

Now Canadian energy experts just need to step up to tell their stories to the world.

They have until July 7 to submit a 300-word abstract for consideration by international subject matter experts who will consider Canadian submissions for papers and posters from among the hundreds typically submitted to a Congress.

WPC’s Canadian organizers hope to see a strong Canadian presence in a forum typically dominated by other countries. Congresses typically attract more than 15,000 delegates from 100 countries — including 700 subject matter speakers. More information at this link: Welcome - World Petroleum Congress 2023 (

The blocks — and their connected forums — cover the gamut from carbon capture and storage and innovations for cleaner production to next-generation clean fuels and hydrogen power production. In between are leadership themes such as cybersecurity, safety and risk management and innovation and partnerships in supply chains.

  • Transition in Exploration and Production (five forums);
  • Transition in Gas and Transportation (four forums);
  • Transition in Refining, Petrochemicals and Products (five forums);
  • Transition in Leadership (four forums);

“It’s intriguing to imagine multiple Canadian submissions into each of the 17 forums,” noted Bill Whitelaw, chairman of the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources (CSUR), an industry technology association currently repositioning itself as the Canadian Society for Evolving Energy. “The WPC globally, and its Canadian team, have done a tremendous job cataloguing all the complexities of energy transition into a terrific framework.”

The Canadian energy transition landscape has a strong “decarbonization horizon,” with substantial activity and alignments between players all working toward the same outcomes, he added.

“When I think of our members at CSUR, and what is dominating their corporate and organizational agendas, it’s all pretty much covered by how the WPC has framed its technical program,” said Whitelaw. “I can think of a dozen initiatives currently underway within our membership that would make great papers or posters…and in the process, get across to a world audience how far advanced the Canadian transition program is.”

CSUR recently hosted a visiting delegation of Argentinian energy officials who were keenly interested in various aspects of Canada’s decarbonization efforts, he added. CSUR brought in firms like geoLOGIC systems ltd., McDaniel and Associates, GLJ, Enbridge Inc., Pembina and ATCO to “frame the decarbonization narrative.”

“What impressed our visitors, beyond our technological competencies, was the way our industry is leading the charge on areas like carbon capture…and how industry works with governments, regulators and communities to move initiatives forward…just think of how impressed the Congress’s global audience would be hearing the same things.”

Whitelaw said the staff and boards of other industry associations and innovation organizations should take a lead role in encouraging their members to consider submitting an abstract by the July 7 deadline.

“When I look around and see the great things being done by the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada, the Clean Resource Innovation Network, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, the Energy Future Lab and Alberta Innovates, just to cite a few, I think it would be terrific if we as an industry ensured quality submissions into each of the 17 forums…certainly, there’s no shortage of well-qualified candidates. We talk a lot about how the world needs more Canada, here’s a chance to put our money where our mouth is.”

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