The pro-Alberta speeches, the glossy print ads and the slick TV commercials haven’t yet succeeded in softening the ground for new pipelines to carry Fort McMurray’s thick crude oil out of western Canada.
So Alberta’s Premier, in the midst of a pan-Canadian oil sands charm offensive, is calling on the hard-hat set to take over the work of promoting the energy sector. What Alberta needs, Premier Alison Redford now says, is some word-of-mouth marketing.
“We need every Canadian who works in the energy industry to be prepared to talk with their friends and their neighbours and their colleagues across the country,” she said. They should spread the message about what oil and gas work “means to people in their daily lives,” she said.
“As Canadians, we rise or we fall together. So we need your voices,” Ms. Redford said at a speech Tuesday at the Canadian Oil Sands Summit in Calgary.
That, at least, is the latest flag-draped pitch from a province scrambling in the face of a $6-billion revenue shortfall this year that has arisen as blocked pipeline proposals choke off oil and gas revenues. It’s an argument that has already been taken up by New Brunswick Premier David Alward, a headline-grabbing new ally for Ms. Redford who was also in Calgary on the third and final day of a junket through Alberta. He toured oil sands facilities, met with government counterparts and sat down Monday night with Ms. Redford and about 20 oil and gas executives.
The two premiers emerged Tuesday praising the merits of a pipeline carrying Alberta bitumen to New Brunswick, home of Canada’s largest crude oil refinery.
The oil sands are “great for every Canadian,” Mr. Alward said at a joint news conference. “We have a tremendous resource and it’s clear, right now, we’re not getting the value we should be getting.”
And though neither premier can do much to actually build a pipeline – Alberta won’t even commit the physical oil barrels it takes as royalties – the political cheerleading has come as a great boon to TransCanada Corp., the company seeking to build the west-to-east oil pipeline.
“Government support in and of itself is not enough,” said Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines. But, he said, at a time when opposition to crude oil movement runs deep, political backing “is probably a necessary precondition. If you have government opposed to your projects, it’s very tough to get those projects approved and constructed.”