October 7, 2021: Alberta’s energy minister accused her former pipeline industry colleagues of being “really short-sighted” after the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) announced plans to shut down by the end of the year.
CEPA’s demise “underscores the seismic shift under way in the energy sector,” the Globe and Mail reports. “Fossil fuel companies are pivoting to renewables or incorporating other green technologies into their operations as investors increasingly focus on environmental, social, and governance issues.”
And as pipeline companies try to latch onto the trend, their shared lobbying voice in Ottawa is about to disappear.
As recently as 2016, CEPA had a dozen members, and in 2020, the companies in its orbit delivered 4.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.3 billion barrels of crude oil, the Globe says. But after Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. stepped away about two years ago, followed by Pembina Pipeline and TC Energy earlier this year, the association’s board decided to wind things down.
“The big guys represented a critical mass,” said CEPA President and CEO Chris Bloomer. “When you have that, you’re speaking for the whole industry, and that really means something. When you lose that constituency, it’s tough.” With its remaining members diversifying into hydrogen, renewable natural gas, biofuels, and carbon capture and storage pipeline, he said the industry would see continuing momentum.
But apparently not at the moment. Even as the fossil industry celebrated completion of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline last week, “no companies are looking to build any other major new pipeline transmission systems in Canada,” the Globe says.
That conclusion didn’t land well with Alberta Energy Minister and former CEPA and Enbridge executive Sonya Savage.
“It’s really short-sighted for these companies to have let the industry association fold because you know we’re going to need it again,” Savage told the Calgary Herald. “You see the attacks and the opposition to major new pipeline projects. Well, that opposition is now targeting existing pipelines…Who is going to be advocating for the industry-wide perspective on that?”
“My indication from the companies is they want to do it on their own,” Bloomer responded. “And companies like TC and Enbridge, they have the capacity to do that…but the larger companies are changing, too, and their focus is different and that needs to be recognized.”
Herald columnist Chris Varcoe agrees big pipeline companies “certainly have the ability to hire lobbyists and experts to ensure their voices are heard in Ottawa.”