Notley Shares Thoughts On Energy Sector Future
Editor’s note: This is the first of multiple stories stemming from an interview the DOB conducted with Rachel Notley, leader of the Opposition.
We are scheduled to meet with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in mid-February.
Rachel Notley’s vision for energy development in Alberta includes support for the conventional industry, exploring LNG growth opportunities and prioritizing value-add for the province.
The Alberta NDP leader and province’s former premier met in person last week with the DOB’s editorial team.
“Obviously, we see the energy sector as continuing to have a long road ahead of it and playing a key role in contributing not only to our economic activity but our economic growth,” she said, when asked about her approach to the industry if re-elected as leader of Alberta this year.
“It’s about: what do we do to support conventional industry — in terms of reducing emissions and ensuring it is aligned to international demand, which will grow in that regard — for lower emissions. Also, looking at, more immediate, in terms of diversifying within the sector, looking at LNG and looking at growth opportunities in LNG.”
Notley also noted consideration for emerging sectors, singling out hydrogen, geothermal and critical minerals.
“There are opportunities and obviously we have a resource here, so we need to be smart about it,” she added. “But overall, as we do that work, in my mind, I think there is a role for government, particularly as we develop newer versions of whatever it is we are exporting, to always be looking at ways to add value here and grow economic opportunity here.”
This, Notley asserted, has not been done systemically, as a province, for years.
“We, I think, paid the price for it on multiple fronts.”
“If we’ve got sort of an emerging product within the sector, can we look at developing it in a way that, again, [results in] more value add, more long-term jobs, community-growing jobs?” she continued.
Incorporated in this development, the former premier has emission reductions as a must.
“If we don’t, we will be left behind,” said Notley. “And it is very clear the international market will look for that.
“We are in a moment right now with Ukraine where, I think, people are shifting out of that mode a little bit right now. But I don’t think we can count on a war in parts of the world as an economic frame within which we are going to operate. We need to be ready for when the world pivots back to that low emission demand. But I do think there are lot of opportunities for us, within that context.”
As energy security has come into greater focus following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, some countries have returned to higher-emission energy sources, such as coal.
At the same time, interest from global markets in Canadian LNG exports has grown.
Notley called LNG a tremendous opportunity.
“Obviously, we can help other countries move to LNG … it is not a permanent solution, but it is a very important transitional solution in terms of meeting the world’s energy needs,” she said. “So, we have to look at what markets we get it to and how we do that.”
During a joint press conference in Canada last summer with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there has never been a strong business case for LNG terminals on Canada’s East Coast.
LNG Canada, under construction on the country’s West Coast, is slated to start exports to Asia in 2025.
“I have said that I am a bit frustrated with the unending politics between our provincial government and the federal government because I think when we are looking at LNG, that is where there is a role for both levels of government to work together to smooth out the growing opportunities there,” said Notley.
“We’ve got one project there, but how do we grow it and how many decades is it going to take to grow it? And what can we do to speed that up?
“Instead of creating division over C-69 … by all means, go to court, see what the courts say about whether that is going to stand or not. But in the meantime, let’s look inside that legislation and look at what opportunities exist to negotiate the kind of accelerated paths that we see, for instance, with some of the critical mineral work that the federal government is doing, [and] for LNG,” she added.
“For whatever reason, it [LNG] appears to be a less contentious product. And so, let’s take advantage of that. I think there are big opportunities. But again, I am also frustrated because … we could have been a lot more ambitious on it.”
Notley was asked how she would support Alberta exports via LNG to the east and west coasts and if she’d consider having the provincial government take an equity stake in an export facility.
“I think we need to look at a range of financing options,” she replied. “I, personally, am a fan of government taking equity stake, because I like the idea of maximizing returns for our taxpayers. But it is one of those things where I would need a lot of very pointy heads to hammer it out in a room with me many times to make sure that we are making good decisions.
“I’d have to, honestly, get briefed on the opportunities as well as the risks, and the need for government to take a financial stake in there. A starting point is to just try to accelerate the development process.”