Alberta is boycotting a major global energy conference because of Russia's actions in Ukraine.
The province on Wednesday said it is dropping out of the 21st World Petroleum Congress, slated to take place in Moscow June 15-19. The WPC, which takes place every three years, attracts thousands of delegates and hundreds of chief executives to address energy issues around the globe. Alberta planned to have a booth at the Canadian Pavilion, as well as provide "on-the-ground" support for a delegation of energy companies based in the province.
"Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, Alberta has stood united with the Government of Canada in condemning violence and the violation of Ukraine's sovereign territory. In the face of ongoing aggression I have made the decision to withdraw all provincial support for the Congress being held in Moscow," Alberta Premier Dave Hancock said in a statement released Wednesday.
Alberta, the statement said, "has been closely monitoring the situation with our federal and provincial counterparts as well as participating companies."
Russia annexed Crimea in the southeast of Ukraine about two months ago. Western countries condemned this move, imposing sanctions. Violence has spread to other parts of Ukraine, where a national election is scheduled for May 25.
Alberta's announcement to stay away from the WPC comes after executives pulled out of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, scheduled for May 22-24. Eleven business leaders scheduled to attend the conference are no longer listed on the forum's website, Reuters reported Tuesday. Oil and gas giant ConocoPhilips is among those now missing from the schedule. Only one of the 11 companies said the decision to drop out is because of rising political tensions, Reuters said, noting most, including Conoco, declined or were unavailable to comment.
There are roughly 3,000 delegates, including 30 ministers and 400 CEOs and organization heads, from about 80 countries registered to participate in this year's World Petroleum Congress in Moscow, according to its website.
The event will address "recent industry and geo-political developments," and will assess how global energy supply and demand will develop, the site says. Key players addressing these issues include BP PLC's CEO, Statoil's CEO, secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the president of Brazil's Petrobas, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, India Oil and Natural Gas Corp.'s chairman, and other powerful players, the website says.
Many of the attendees are already developing projects in Alberta. But Russia's aggression in Ukraine makes it "untenable" for Alberta to attend the gathering, said Cal Dallas, Alberta's Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations.
"The world is a different place now than it was when these plans were initially being made," he said in the statement. "Continuing actions to undermine stability in Ukraine make Alberta's participation in Moscow untenable. We continue to support the federal government's persistent calls to de-escalate the crisis and oppose military aggression and illegal occupation."
The provincial government "continues to support the Canadian Association of World Petroleum Council and its role in organizing the World Petroleum Congress," the statement said.
The 22nd WPC will take place in Istanbul in 2017.