What are we looking for?
A pipeline company with the environmental and community-engagement capabilities to help alleviate Canada’s oil-price woes.
Before September, Western Canadian Select crude oil had never sold at more than a US$45-a-barrel discount to West Texas Intermediate. It has been stuck below this historical level ever since. By some estimates, this could lower total government revenue from royalties and taxable income related to heavy oil by $10-billion. The main reason for the unprecedented discount is a lack of pipeline capacity able to transport crude oil to refineries. Keystone XL, the Trans Mountain expansion, Northern Gateway and Energy East have all been delayed or abandoned owing to opposition from, and poor relations with, environmentalists and Indigenous communities. Sadly, refineries in Canada’s East have to buy oil from places such as Russia and Saudi Arabia – not exactly beacons of environmental and human-rights protection.
But there are success stories. The Coastal GasLink pipeline, now being built by TransCanada Corp., will bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) from northeastern British Columbia to the new LNG Canada export terminal, has been embraced by politicians and, critically, has the support of all 20 Indigenous communities along its proposed route.
It bears asking which of Canada’s energy transportation companies have the environmental and community engagement capabilities necessary to replicate TransCanada’s success with Coastal GasLink and help solve Canada’s escalating oil-price problem.
- We screen all companies headquartered in Canada involved in the transportation of oil.
- For each of these companies we pull the Thomson Reuters ESG (environmental, social and governance) environmental score and community score (a sub-component of the social score). These are percentile scores relative to their global industry peers. (A company with a score of 75, for example, has ranked higher than 75 per cent of its peers.)
- We also pull voluntary disclosures (unlike financial data, companies aren’t required to disclose information on environmental impact or community involvement) regarding: carbon emissions; whether the company has a biodiversity impact-reduction policy; community donations; and corporate responsibility awards.
More about Refinitiv
Refinitiv formerly the financial and risk business of Thomson Reuters, is one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure, serving more than 40,000 institutions in more than 190 countries.
What we found
Among the five pipeline companies, Enbridge Inc. stands out on a number of factors. It has the highest environmental score and is much less carbon-intensive than even TransCanada – the only other company to disclose on carbon. (In contrast to its success with Coastal Link, TransCanada recently had its Keystone XL pipeline blocked by a judge in Montana.)
Enbridge gave $13.4-million in community donations and is one of three companies on our list that has a biodiversity impact-reduction policy – which may not sound too remarkable, but only 16 per cent of the world’s oil- and gas-services companies do. Finally, Enbridge is ranked No. 12 (and the only Canadian company in the top 70) on Corporate Knights' list of the World’s 100 Most Sustainable Corporations.
Investors are strongly advised to do further research before investing in any of the securities shown here.
Hugh Smith, CFA, MBA, is an investment management specialist at Refinitiv.