Crude Observations

And the Award Goes to…

Well, this week I feel it is time to revisit something I wanted to make into a tradition but failed a bit at because I of course got lazy and forgot. That’s right, it is time to acknowledge an event that is universally loved by seemingly everyone I have ever known and, let’s be honest here, everybody else.


I’m talking of course about #CERAweek – which is shorthand for the annual springtime convention held by S&P Global that Features a veritable who’s who of government officials, energy sector participants, professional convention goers, wannabes, gonnabes, hasbeens and media gadflies. This convention is such a big deal that it is often referred to (maybe just by me) as the Davos of the energy sector.


Maybe it’s the annual opening statement by Daniel Yergin, author of “The Prize” that makes it such required participation or maybe it’s the 5 x 10 booth that Alberta has in the convention centre, sandwiched between a manufacturer of safety gloves and a recycling station that makes it so special, but it is truly special.


Except I’m not. I’m talking about the Academy Awards of course, the Oscars. The big night where the beautiful and smart people in Hollywood get together and celebrate themselves by talking about themselves and giving prizes to each other, all in the hopes that they will get noticed, either while they are preening on the red carpet or at an after-party so they can, of course, talk about themselves some more and how awesome they are.


I tried to make this a tradition a few years ago but they couldn’t seem to decide when to have them, whether they should have a host, what a movie actually was and then, Will Smith decided to execute the slap heard around the world when he walloped Chris Rock. Now I know we all want to wallop Chris Rock, if only because of his horrible acting in Lethal Weapon 18, but it was a bit of a turn-off.


Come to think of it, maybe the Oscars aren’t all they are cracked up to be. In fact, it is probably the single most self-absorbed night of the year in any industry. Even more annoying than Davos and more self-righteous than a UN sponsored COP summit or Liberal Party Cabinet retreat. Hard to believe I used to get together with friends to watch these awards and sit on the edge of my seat desperately hoping that my favourite movie would win Best Sound Design for a Movie Adapted from a Kleenex Commercial or hanging on every word uttered in an acceptance speech by such intellectual luminaries as Sally Field (“you really like me!”) or James Cameron (“king of the world!”).


In all reality, I probably won’t watch this year’s big show, as my family doesn’t enjoy it. Maybe it will be on in the background so that we can watch some of the musical performances. I don’t even know who is hosting this year. And Tom Cruise got snubbed yet again because he’s into science or something.


Never mind that the proliferation of self-indulgent arty movies in the nominating categories has made the entire event an exercise in cinematic futility for pretty much anyone except the self-congratulatory “members” of the Academy who clearly get compensated for sitting through a lot of the unwatchable nominated movies.


That’s right. The Academy Awards, the Oscars, have been dead to me since they jumped the shark in 1996 by not inviting back the most glorious host in Oscars history – David Letterman (“Oprah. Uma.”).


So clearly, I am not much of a fan anymore. At least of this particular incarnation of the Oscars. That doesn’t mean that I can’t exploit the awards for personal gain. And that’s because earlier this week the real Academy Awards were held and I had the pleasure of attending the ceremonies in person (no virtual garbage for these babies!) and I am pleased to report that it was a rip-roaring success.


What Oscars you say? Why the Crude Observations Energy and Other Stuff Oscars of course. Which strangely has many of the same categories as the actual Academy Awards, just with a bunch of surprising nominees, and winners!


As a VIP attendee I was privy to the whole event and below is my review. I’ll skip the boring awards of course. No one really cares about Best Drilling Rig or Best Performance by a Pumpjack in Inclement Weather or Best Dressed Millennial Geophysicist. Those get handed out separately at the nerd show.


A Night to Remember


Imagine my excitement when I received my formal invitation to attend this exclusive event in person, at a secret location. My VIP ticket arrived by UberEats earlier this week with a swag package that I ripped open as soon as I got home. Most times, the swag bag is reserved for nominees and presenters (I missed out on that honour) so actually receiving one myself was an early highlight of what was sure to be a special evening.


The contents were of course mostly energy themed and included the following:


  • A Tupperware container filled with bitumen
  • An autographed picture of Danielle Smith giving a cheque to an oil company CEO
  • 10 original Encana share certificates
  • The deed to an orphaned well in the Lloydminster area that qualifies for the R* program
  • A lump of coal (my plan is to put it under my mattress and hopefully make a diamond!)
  • Tickets to an NHL Playoff game* of my choice
  • An $834 carbon tax rebate cheque signed by Justin Trudeau
  • A corporate bond in a Texas based LTO producer.
  • A CD compilation of Greta Thunberg’s best speeches.
  • 1 share of Twitter
  • A solar panel
  • 1 Dogecoin


*Apparently my choice has to be Toronto. Hard pass.


Pretty exciting stuff if I may say so myself.


As the day arrived, I found myself strangely filled with a nervous energy I hadn’t felt in a long time. Was it butterflies at the prospect of meeting so many of the luminaries of the energy sector? Maybe it was trepidation at attending an in-person event after all this time of isolation and virtual cocktail hours.


Not wanting to be late, I hopped into my vehicle and punched in the GPS code for the secret event location – hmm, a three-hour drive? That’s gotta be near Edmonton?


As I arrived at the location, I noticed several cars with out of province and out of country licence plates (Quebec, Ontario, BC, Sask, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Idaho) and realized when I saw the building that I was at the Coutts border crossing! Fortunately, a friendly Alberta sheriff was there to direct me down the highway to a hastily set up outdoor structure where clearly there was some action because there was a nice long red carpet set up as well as some of those Klieg lights that look so cool in movies and televised awards shows.


I tossed my keys to a valet (well I thought he was a valet) and headed up the red carpet to the tent, fighting my way through the surprisingly large continent of paparazzi falling all over themselves to interview an impressive assemblage of energy related luminaries including, among others Murray Edwards, Danielle Smith, MBS, Max, John Kerry, Joe Biden’s speechwriter, some dude named Sad Bill, Stu Parnell and Neil Young.


I got to my seat just in the nick of time to catch Rex Murphy doing a tap-dance routine clearly themed around Western Canadian alienation which will give me nightmares until the day I die and then stay with me in the afterlife.


Then the awards started. Given the length of the show and the mind-numbing boringness of the speeches, I am going to spare everyone the blow by blow narrative and just summarize them by category, winner and notable moments if any happen.


Best Supporting Actress for the Environment.


This year’s two favourites were Greta Thunberg and plucky newcomer Sofia Kiani, the fashion plate UN spokesperson who is leveraging her 15 minutes of fame like no one I have ever seen. In a surprise result, Greta won. I don’t know if it was backlash against Sofia for posting on Insta about her brunch with a pack of Kardashians, but the academy clearly isn’t buying into her shtick completely, whereas Greta? There is zero doubt she is a true believer.


Best Supporting Actor for the Canadian Energy Sector


Jason Kenney was an early favourite for this award having been premier of Alberta during the recent runup in prices and with his blue Ram a clear supporter of fossil fuels. But then he had a late-breaking challenge from both Justin Trudeau for his support of the TransMountain Expansion and Eric Nutall, portfolio manager for Nine Point Partners, otherwise known as the most relentless supporter of Canadian energy in the financial world. Ironically, it was the man widely touted as hating the Canadian Energy Sector who won. Because he is actually spending government money. But we still hate him. Trudeau. Blech.


Best Director


This award goes to the person who shows the greatest skill and leadership in creating and guiding an energy company. Nominees of note were Murray Edwards and Mike Rose. Each made obscene amounts of money for their shareholders this year and each had both regular and special dividends to distribute. However, the academy being what it is, the what have you done for me lately crew won the day and Murray took home the prize when gas prices collapsed late in the year.


Best Screenplay/Story Spinning/True or Otherwise


A lot of nominees in this category including, surprisingly, yours truly, although I’m certainly not the favourite since my promotion activities are confined to my job and this blog, making me kind of an indie cult favourite. No, the powerhouse nominees here are Alex Epstein, who now bills himself as a Philosopher and energy expert, the American Petroleum Institute for its industry lobbying and the left flank of the Democrat Party which excels in completely misrepresenting the energy industry in order to advance their cause. I really thought I was going to win this, because the rest of the category is hot trash, but a surprise winner came up the middle and I’m glad he did – Rory Johnston and his Commodity Insight newsletter – required reading folks!


Best Actress


This year’s contest featured some pretty compelling performances including Rachel Notley’s turn as opposition leader in a bizarre parallel universe version of Alberta called Crazyland and Danielle Smith as a social media quitting, salt of the earth woman of the people in the sleeper hit “Look at me, Now I’m in Charge!”. This year’s winner was, of course, Danielle Smith, thanks in no small part to her turn as the Jason Kenney slaying populist dragon and ultimate Dauphine to the Alberta throne. May her largesse last as long as her reign.


Best Actor


This was a tough category. Everyone was kind of lame and you can’t be nominated twice. So the best supporting fellas are precluded from participation. This left just three nominees for best actor in the energy sector. On one side we had Joe Biden for his role as an everyman president trying to do right by his people and get re-elected by draining billions of dollars and hundreds of millions of barrels from his country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves. All to keep gas prices low and ensure re-election, all while dem0onizing the sector as a whole. Opposite him was Vlad “the Impaler” Putin, who starred in a modern day version of War and Peace where he launched an ill-advised invasion of a neighbour, blew up the energy industry, almost tipped the rest of the world into a recession and destroyed his own country’s economy. It was really no contest here – the maniac villain is a hard to pull of role, but Vlad did it with panache and malice. Strangely, he didn’t show up to get his award, so the snipers went home empty-handed.


Best Picture


And then finally we were at the moment of truth. The award of awards. The best picture. Strangely, all of the movies in question had the same titles as the actual Oscar nominees although slightly different plots. Let’s go through them.


Elvis. Starring Jason Kenney, this movie tells the rags to riches story of a career politician with a unique musical pedigree who achieves the pinnacle of success, only to be stabbed in the back by… well pretty much everyone.


All Quiet on the Western Front. This movie tells the story of a fierce and determined squad of commandos hired by the Russian, Ukrainian and American governments (unbeknownst to any of them) to find a way to cripple either Germany or Russia (as the case may be) and the twists and turns of the mission that ultimately turned out to be the sabotage of the NordStream natural gas pipelines.


Avatar: The Way of Water. This is the story of a clandestine American plot to instal a “Machurain Candidate style puppet into the Canadian government to faciliate the US, most notably the drought starved SW, takeonver of Canada’s freshwater resources.


Triangle of Sadness. One year in the life of the leaders of Canada’s three main political parties.


Top Gun: Maverick. A loose with the facts, in fact mostly fictitious, biopic of Canada’s newly installed CPC leader, none other than wood obsessed Pierre Poilievre. The penultimate scene of him in a Canadian Forces CF-18, held together by duct tape and fishing line strafing a bombed out 24 Sussex Drive while Trudeau cowers inside is sure to go down as one of the most iconic moments in Canadian film history.


Women Talking. This movie is exactly what it sounds like. It’s women talking. And it does not bode well for us dudes. They have some pretty negative things to say.


The Fabelmans. This artsy and quasi-autobiographical picture from the family of legendary oilman Clay Riddell tells the multi-generational arc of a family shaped by the oil and gas industry in Alberta, starting from a bootstrapped and scrappy junior oil and gas player to a multi-disciplinary family empire. While the ending leaves a lot to be desired (they are all successful and make lots of money – yawn), the cameos from Canadian oil and gas royalty like Gwyn Morgan, Murray Edwards, Murray Mullen and yours truly make it a treat for those who know.


Tar. In a rare nomination in this category, this documentary about the Canadian oilsands and their importance to the Canadian economy is now considered required viewing… somewhere I’m sure.


The Banshees of Inisherin. No one knows what this movie about, but the title makes it sound like a real action/adventure so it was surely a big hit. Ironically, this film actually tells the story of a group of protestors aligned against the fracking of a natural gas well on a remote outcropping of rock in “who gives a crap it’s so remote Ireland”. When the oil company finally abandons its plan, it is up to Greta Thunberg lookalike Luella Funberg to organize a rescue mission.


Everything Everywhere All at Once. This final nominee is the story of a federal government, in the fictional country of Banada, coming to terms with the folly of its current policy platform regarding the development (or lack thereof) of its energy riches and the steps to takes to reinvent itself on a global scale as a leading figure in the delivery of energy essentials and lose its current image of addiction to mediocrity and a panderer to international bodies that ultimately don’t care about them. One of the mist gripping scenes is when the leader of the country, Dustin Whodeau joins the opposition leader Pete Polygam to write a business case for exporting LNG.


True to fashion of the last few years the winner was the obscure “Traingle of Sadness” which seems oddly apropos. With the three leaders not present, Elizabet May accepted the award. Oh wait. No. It seems Jagmeet was there to accept it on behalf of Trudeau and Poilievre. May just stole it. Explains the lack of speech.



Well, there you have it! After all that excitement, I gathered my belongings and headed to the after parties – how fun was that?



My actual best Movie pick? Top Gun Maverick. Why? It’s the only one I’ve seen. Someone is doing a really bad job of attracting my attention. Maybe I’m not a target market.

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