Friday, October 26, 2007

Alright, everybody can exhale now

One of the most anticipated moments in Alberta's political history finally arrived yesterday afternoon. In a crowded room in Calgary, Premier Ed Stelmach and Energy Minister Mel Knight outlined the changes to Alberta's royalty regime.

First off, I was very impressed with both of these men as they delivered their remarks and subsequently took questions. Neither are flashy speakers, but they damn sure know what they're talking about. Unlike the way Liberal "Shadow Minister" Hugh MacDonald (arguably the dumbest man ever elected to the Alberta Legislature) stumbles and bumbles his way through this file, the way the Premier and Minister Knight are able to cite figures, studies, etc. off the cuff tells me that they take their jobs seriously and understand the importance of "getting it right".

I think they did.

Of course, a lot of the talking heads in the oil industry had predictions of doom and gloom. This is no surprise since their job is to defend big oil at all costs and because they've been spouting the same negative spin for months. Don't get me wrong, I grew up in the oilsands and have a tremendous respect for the resource and those who help develop it. But i'm sure i'm not the only one who's getting a little tired of Pierre Alvarez's ongoing rendition of Chicken Little.

Thankfully, news items like THIS and THIS should keep the aforementioned talking heads quiet for a little while as they rework their talking points. Continued predictions of economic collapse while the media reports that things are fine and profits are still soaring could lose them the few friends they have in the public domain.

I haven't yet read the report in detail. There is so much analysis to pour through that it will certainly keep many of us busy for the next few days.

One of the things that did jump out at me, though, was THIS. Incentives for refining and upgrading OUR oil at home just make sense. We have the technology and the expertise to make it happen. It is also an excellent tool to help spread the "Alberta Advantage" out from Fort McMurray and the Highway 2 corridor into parts of rural Alberta that haven't prospered as equally as the larger centres. Its our resource and we should be doing what we can to extract maximum value from it before we ship it down the pipe.

I'm also glad that, while there will be some major adjustments (particularily for my hometown monoliths of Syncrude and Suncor), industry has a reasonable-but-not-excessive time frame to prepare. On top of that, continuing the deep-gas royalty holiday will help salvage what was an already-threatened drilling season. Smart, fair policies all around.

I, like most of you, will have more to say in the days ahead as we continue to dissect the new royalty regime and the public's reaction to it. In the meantime, normally hard-headed columnist Neil Waugh has an excellent piece that sums it up pretty well.

Someone should send it to Graham Thomson and Don Braid... it'll blow a little sunshine up a part of their anatomy that appears to be home to a couple of large sticks at the moment.


  1. Hugh Macdonald does indeed bumble but I really wish the Premier knew this file. He doesn't and the gov't is deliberately trying to make sure that no one can figure it out by not releasing the details.

    They may have shot apart this drilling season by continuing the uncertainty.

  2. Another thing, when Neil Waugh and Rick Bell agree with you --- you've probably screwed it up.

  3. I fail to see how a regime that doesn't come into effect until January 2009 will cause any harm to THIS winter's drilling season.

  4. Rick Bell is a piece of trash who doesn't have any facts for anything he says, he sees something shiny like a cat and just talks about it, he doesn't actually make any effort to learn what hes talking about. but sometimes I agree with his rant however uninformed it may be

  5. Eddy the goof just gave me all the reason I need not to vote for the PC's (Pickpocket Communists) again. The government is running surplus after surplus and we have nothing to show for it. What is the supposed extra 1.4 Billion going to do for the average Albertan? Put him out of work? The strength of the Albera economy is the little company that provides goods and services to other, often bigger companies. If the "bigger" companies don't have the money to use the services or buy the goods of the little companies who loses? Leave the money in the hands of the average Albertan - in the market not the government.

  6. What benefit has this boom given average Albertans? Perhaps this will give the big boy's some incentive to slow it down a little, they've brought this upon themselves by building these plants all at once. there are shortages of equipment, materials, manpower,Housing etc. I do not think this is a boom anymore, the day's of cheap oil are coming to an end. The Middle east has declining reserves and great instability, while we on the otherhand have vast reserves an educated workforce and political stability - we should be getting top dollar for those ammenities