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Pump jacks pump oil at an Encana well near Standard, Alberta, May 12, 2014.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Energy is serious business, and in 2014 there was no shortage of serious stories. There were more than a few oddities too, as the Canadian industry had one of the shortest booms on record, oilmen took shots at one another and the sector was forced into survival mode by a cartel tired of being the world's oil-price police.

Here is a sampling of some of the year's unusual stories in energy:

The blink-and-you'll-miss-it energy boom

A year ago, the Canadian energy sector was just emerging from 18 months of downturn that was marked by weak merger and acquisition activity and equity financing numbers. First, the polar vortex kicked up massive demand for natural gas for heating, pushing prices for the fuel through the winter to multiyear highs. Then deals went from trickle to gusher. The initial public offering market returned with a vengeance, building up to Encana Corp.'s float in June of PrairieSky Royalty Ltd., at $1.7-billion the largest Canadian IPO since 2000.

Within weeks, though, the air began to leak out of the balloon as the shale gas industry quickly refilled depleted natural gas inventories and oil prices began to collapse due to the buildup of supplies and a darkening outlook for demand in European and Asian markets. In December, after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided against reducing output, crude skidded to five-year lows, taking the Canadian industry from an embarrassment of riches to deep cuts in spending in less than 12 months. From its June high to December low, the Toronto Stock Exchange's energy group shed 43 per cent of its value. It was a quick party that produced a painful hangover.

The return of the mouth that roared

Tom Budd was a star oil-patch deal maker of the 1990s and early 2000s, with his tough-taking style, propensity to talk business even on the stationary bike at the gym and "ICLOSEM" vanity plates on his Porsche Carrera GT. Retired as head of investment banking at GMP Securities Ltd., Mr. Budd was living a quieter life in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley when he was called upon to help seek buyers for oil junior Renegade Petroleum. The debt-heavy producer was eventually sold, but not before FrontFour Capital Group LLC launched a proxy battle.

Zachary George, son of former Suncor Energy chief executive officer and current Penn West Petroleum Ltd. chairman Rick George, is a principal at FrontFour. The elder Mr. George went to bat for his son in what turned out to be an unsuccessful bid for control. That did not sit well with Mr. Budd, and a few months later, when Penn West shares slumped amid accounting irregularities, he took the opportunity to fire a volley of verbal shots at his rival.

"Rick George doesn't seem to be the right guy to do the job or have the right qualifications," Mr. Budd said in late July as he mused publicly about leading a proxy offensive of his own. "He should be embarrassed and he should step down based on the stock performance."

Penn West completed an investigation into its accounting problems and restated results, saying it could move on. The shares have tumbled further as oil prices have dropped, though Mr. Budd has not returned. Yet.

The many moods of Jim Prentice

It's not that he can't hold down a job, but Mr. Prentice had four roles in 2014. His current one will be the toughest.

He started the year as vice-chairman and executive vice-president at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, a position he took up after leaving the federal Conservatives. In that role, he was able to wax eloquent on energy-related issues from the sidelines.

In March, he was seconded to Enbridge Inc. to help it try to build trust with First Nations in British Columbia as it sought to advance the Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline to the West Coast from Alberta. However, when former Alberta premier Alison Redford resigned in the wake of expense scandals, Mr. Prentice decided to take a run at the Progressive Conservative leadership. He spent the spring and summer in the job of leading campaigner.

Now, as Premier, he's forced to deal with the economic impact of plunging oil prices. Mr. Prentice faces having to formulate a budget as revenue wanes and deep spending cuts are expected. He'll face a declawed opposition on the political right, though, after Danielle Smith and eight Wildrose Party members turned their backs on supporters and signed up with Mr. Prentice.

OPEC's king of the one-liner

Oil markets hang on every word uttered by Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia's oil minister and a powerful force within the cartel. Lately, one gets the feeling he's toying with the market as he's asked whether the group might eventually cut production to rescue prices. Here's a taste:

"It is not in the interest of OPEC producers to cut their production, whatever the price is. Whether it goes down to $20, $40, $50, $60, it is irrelevant." – Interview with Middle East Economic Survey, Dec. 22.

"Saudi Arabia, you know, we are going to continue to produce what we are producing, we are going to continue to welcome additional production if customers come and ask for it." – Interview with CNN, Dec. 22.

"I am confident the oil market will improve." – Remarks to conference in Abu Dhabi (Reuters), Dec. 21

"There are wrong information and analyses that are circulated from time to time, like linking oil decisions with political motives. These wrong analyses will be exposed for sure, which would help to bring back balance to the market." – To Saudi state news agency SPA, Dec. 18.

"For the last 20 years, you have been asking me questions. May I ask you a question: What should OPEC do?" – To reporters ahead of the OPEC meeting in Vienna (Wall Street Journal), Nov. 24.

NWT's boom just around the corner (again)

Vast landscape, massive energy resources, a willing population – the Northwest Territories is ripe for an energy boom, as it has been since the 1970s. The problem is, it can't catch a break. In the modern era, the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline won approval after several years of lead-up, just as North America was being transformed into a shale gas market of plenty. Prices for the commodity sank, leaving Mackenzie Delta gas reserves in the ground and the pipeline unbuilt. Next up, the Canol shale deposit in the central NWT was touted a couple of years ago as the next Bakken. However, drilling has yet to kick into gear, and is unlikely to in any big way as long as crude prices are depressed. The territorial government still had the potential for deep-water Beaufort Sea drilling in its back pocket, but by the end 2014, one of the two proponents, Chevron Corp., decided to put its plans on the shelf, fearing the multibillion-dollar price tag to get to the first well drilled. Imperial Oil Ltd. is still in the planning stages for its Beaufort acreage and NWT heads into 2015 promoting an oil pipeline to the Arctic from Alberta.