Crude Observations

Is there a draft in here?

Vontae Mack. No matter what.


Wow. That’s cryptic. Hey, did anyone notice I wasn’t here last week? Because I wasn’t. I hope some of you noticed. I would be awfully sad if you didn’t. I was off tending to some personal business and, whilst cooling my heels in a hotel room far, far away, I decided that I would not publish a blog that day. To be honest, I wrote one. But I put it in my proverbial pocket for another day.


And here I find myself yet again contemplating what I should write this week. Ah, come on. We all know what I am writing about this week. It’s the end of April and that can mean only one thing – that’s right, everyone’s favourite poem, that I may or may not have written:


April is tough and nasty or so they say

But I don’t care, ‘cause on the morrow

It’s gonna by May!




From Chaucer (he dropped the iambic pentameter hammer on April showers) to folksy sayings (April showers bring May flowers (punch)) to the usual Calgary litany of freak snowstorms and patio weather (often in the same day!), April is typically a bear of a month and this year, AGAIN, it hasn’t disappointed.


And as I prepared for this year’s actual annual tradition – the NFL Draft inspired Global Energy Draft TM – sure enough another bomb dropped. This time in the form of classic vote-buying on the part of Danielle Smith and the UCP and their big money cozey-up to the Calgary Flames and the City of Calgary and money for a new arena. $300 million to take down the old Saddle Dome (hopefully after a new rink is built) and do some other stuff, all a mere 6 weeks before the hotly contested Alberta election. Cynical? Yup. Crass? Yup. Sneaky? Yup. Necessary? Yup.


What? Yes. Necessary. Calgary needs a new barn. No one is going to build it apparently without the city and the province ponying up. So let’s just get it done. Enough already.


Do I think the politics stink? Of course I do. Can my vote be bought? Typically yes. Will this make a difference in my voting intentions? Probably not. I’ve already made up my mind. But this will sway a lot of voters in various directions. Remains to be seen how it actually unfolds.


My money is on equal numbers of voters switching up as a result so not much will change.


I see Rachel is hedging her bets and not taking a stand but demanding things like “details” and “clarity”.


Stay tuned, I may or may not write about this.


Back to the NFL Draft! The annual meat market wherein large men find out they have to move to such glamourous locales as Detroit, Cleveland and Jacksonville or have their careers needlessly wrecked by being drafted by perennial sad sack teams like the Jets who now have an actual Hall of Fame QB from Green Bay to wreck. While the good teams also select players, the most ironic part of the draft for me is that the best players invariably find themselves in the worst places, unless someone makes a trade.



Anyway, I digress. While I take a break between Round 1 withdrawal and wait breathlessly for Round 2, I am going to cast off these April blahs, and, just like the NFL, I am going to hold a draft – like I do every year, except, as regular readers know, mine is a Global Energy League Draft.


So here goes.


The Global Energy League Draft of 2022


OK, first the rules. For the purposes of this draft there are only 10 teams, the others are all in some minor league or other entity like a Soccer Super League. The draft will take place in typical inverse order, so if you had the weakest record in the last year, you get to pick first. This means the best picks last. Each participant has 10 minutes to make their pick, spawning the term “on the clock”.



Trades are allowed, encouraged and occasionally happen. As an analogy for global energy politics, it needs to make at least a little bit of sense and clearly, if Russia isn’t portrayed as evil, then what’s the point?



Finally, just like in the NFL draft there has to be a last pick, in this case it is pick number 60 because this draft actually has 6 rounds. In the NFL this pick is called Mr. Irrelevant just to demean that poor kid a bit more, so we will go with that. Except of course last year’s Mr. Irrelevant was Brock Purdy who led the San Francisco 49ers to the playoffs and was one broken elbow away from going o the Super Bowl.



Alright, here comes honorary commissioner and noted candidate for YYC night mayor Roger Baker to announce that the team with the number one pick in the Energy Draft is up and has ten minutes to make its pick.



“Ladies and gentlemen, Canada is officially on the clock and the draft is on”



Canada – first pick overall! Very exciting, right? Until you realize that Canada has had the ifrst pick in this draft for what feels like an entire pandemic and energy sector downturn, recovery and pause. They just can’t seem to catch a break, likely due to too much meddling from long-time GM Justin Trudeau.


Last Season. The last season for Canada was nothing short of hopeless on the energy front. The country started relatively strong but faded fast as the year went on. Expensive free agents TransMountain and Coastal Gas Link got on the field for a bit but they are very expensive works in progress and it will be several years before these picks begin to pay off. An inability to trade any of its plentiful LNG assets to an asset starved European side meant another losing season.


Needs: Everything. Seriously. OK, maybe not that seriously but there are holes in this lineup that newly hired Coach Poilievre needs to address to attract more potential free agents. Probably needs a more focused GM, but that’s for another day.


The Pick. This one is really no surprise. The consensus number one pick in the draft has always been staring any team in Canada right in the face. They need to protect and get the best performance out of their most prized assets. With the first pick in the draft, Canada picks Business Case Development and Implementation for Critical Energy Assets – an online course offered via the Stormont Capital Advisors University political outreach program.


Pick Number 2 goes to the Russian team which fell from its one-time leading status to that of also ran (still better than Canada) in the space of 15 months.


There was a lot of debate as to whether Russia should be allowed to participate in this year’s draft due to their ongoing criminal invasion of Ukraine, but this is an energy analogy after all and they are a major participant.


Last Season: Led by Vlad “the Impaler” Putin, the Russian Bears tried to bully their way through the season last year but thanks to the fast actions of newly minted league commissioner Tucker Carlson, most of their trade requests were denied and a clever implementation of a salary cap penalty and embargo meant that they were no longer able to pay their players in anything except pure ethanol. It wasn’t pretty. Having to play Ukraine three times a year did nothing for team morale and their field is a toxic muddy swamp. Even their traditional cheating and intimidation did little to help.


Needs: It is hard to say what the Russians need at this point. Their energy team is typically balanced and requires very little tinkering. But invading your neighbour comes with a lot of unintended consequences, some of which include a lot of current customers declining to buy your stuff, the team owners having their assets seized and the minions on your team being ritualistically humiliated by an upstart team from Ukraine. Then they lost the NordStream 1&2 – key players, so things aren’t going great.


If pressed, most people would say Russia needs a new Coach/GM/President and Chief Play Caller if they weren’t afraid that doing so would result in them falling out a window to their death.


Pick: Desperate to reset his team and in a rare moment of clarity, Putin picked peace negotiations with Ukraine to throw his country a much needed life line. However, unhappy with his picks, Putin gave the pick away to an unsuspecting Canada who had no idea what to do with them and decided out of spite to play the whole season short a man.


Picks number 3 and 4 this year both go to Alberta, home to former league commissioner Jason Kenney and plenty of oil and gas. The number 3 pick is “earned” thanks to Alberta’s continued lousy record the past season while the number 4 overall pick is a compensatory pick from the United States for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline project two year’s prior which was earned when the folly of its cancellation led to a “I told you so” moment during the gas price surge of 2022.


Last Season: Compounded by pipeline challenges and delays, multiple pandemic waves and an ongoing conflict with Canada, last season was a bit of a mess for Alberta. Distracted by a brutal battle at the top for the vacant General Manager job, the Alberta team spent much of the year blaming everyone else for their poor performance instead of assessing their weaknesses and starting from scratch. After a tough start to the year, the players decided to ignore the front office and get back to basics – a strong ground game, play by the rules, keep your head down and don’t draw attention to yourselves and you will be competitive week after week and ultimately be rewarded. It was a slow start, but the Alberta team closed the year hard and they have so much cap space and money to spend on free agents that even Murray Edwards would blush. Dividends anyone?


Needs: With division rival Russia appearing to be on a downtrend, Venezuela a basket case and the Middle East out of favour, there is an opportunity here for Alberta to step up and maybe even contend for a playoff sport this year, especially if TransMountain, Coastal Gas Link and LNG Canada keep progressing. Having the powerhouse US as a perennial power and also contending with teams such as Iran and Iraq will be a challenge. Also, the coaching seat remains vacant with Danielle Smith and Rachel Notley duking it out for the worst (best?) job in the league.


Pick #3: With this pick, Alberta went the safe route and chose to bulk up its defence, and who can blame them after the manhandling they have suffered the last few years. The pick is Environmental Remediation. Hard to beat everyone in the world when you have toxic goo leaking out of the hot tub.


Pick #4: With this pick Alberta is faced with a conundrum. Do you take a flyer on an LNG business case to the East Coast to Quebec and hope? More local infrastructure? A new hockey arena for a vote-rich city? Ultimately this pick came down to the wire and with time almost expiring to make the call, Alberta went with the trendy, flashy pick – Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. A flyer in my eyes, but this is what you do when you have two picks.


The 5th overall pick in this draft belonged to Iran and for the longest time, it was radio silence as they searched for their scouting notes, a list of available choices and a video-feed that wasn’t in Russian.


Last Season: Iran was blacklisted for much of the season last year as perennial powers United States and Saudi Arabia did their best to sideline them and keep them out of the playoffs. It was one debacle after another as they found themselves hemmed in with nowhere to send their energy. Then Russia invaded Ukraine and they were everyone’s darling for a bit but still ended the season basically ignored. Looking forward, even their cheating by sending barrels to China is being met with Russian crude..


Needs: For Iran, it’s pretty simple. They have some of the best assets in the energy league outside of Saudi Arabia but no way to properly use them unless the US lets them.


Pick: In anticipation of finally being allowed back into the league in a meaningful way, Iran needs a flashy pick that will make American fans sit up and take notice. Not believing their luck, the Iranian team manager was at Mar-a-Lago and some crazy dude there gave him the location of all the US’s spies in Iran – unsolicited! So the Iranians decided to go with Extortion. Not sure that this beats last year when they drafted Hunter Biden, but it’ll be fun I think.


The 6th overall pick this year belonged to China, a surprise leader last season, especially when one considers they are primarily a consumer and not producer of energy.


Last Season: Finishing in the top half of the league last year was something of a major accomplishment for a talented and disciplined Chinese squad. Especially when one considers they had their team locked up in quarantine for pretty much the whole season until the food riots. China dominates the energy league by building up massive reserves, satisfying demand by being open to trades with anyone who had a viable option for them and not being intimidated by any team in the league. They could have done even better if they hadn’t taken such a huge gamble on supporting the Russian team.


Needs: With strength at virtually every position, the Chinese entry has no glaring needs, so they are free to draft strategically. In the current league incarnation, the real rivalry for the Chinese team is the United States, especially General Manager Finger Pointing Joe Biden who is a bit of a wildcard in his approach to the Chinese team.


Pick: In a bid to solidify their influence in the league and secure a leading competitive position for years to come before the US team gets its act back together on the foreign influence front, the Chinese team selected Russian Natural Gas. This allows China to secure their energy and resource needs for years to come and suck Russia dry.


The 7th overall pick in this draft belongs to the United States, who, notwithstanding having one of the best teams in the league on paper hasn’t been able to crack the top three since prior to the pandemic shortened season of 2020.


Needs: While they continue to get steady production out of their core energy assets, the US team continues to suffer from a lack of cohesion and strategy leading to some pretty disappointing results. GM “Sleepy” Joe Biden is an old school baller who spends his time spinnin’ yarns about the good ole days before all this fancy pants malarkey and, while he is really, really good at spending money, he has deferred those decisions to assistants who can’t read a depth chart due to the sun in their eyes. Plus they have legacy free-agents like Permania that wull have them over the salary cap for years to come.


The Pick. True to form, the United States ignored the advice of the scouts and industry veterans, selecting Offshore Whale-Killing windfarms over New England Pipelines. It’s going to be a loooonnnngggg season.




The 8th overall pick went to third year Renewable Energy who has translated some high expansion team draft capital into a multi year run of relevance for what was at one point a pretty fossilized league.


Last Season: Building on their brief participation in the league, this team continues to have an outsized impact, using a fast-moving offense to confound opposing teams and seemingly outstrip them with their very high capacity. Players come in waves as if carried on the wind and their fan base is completely bonkers.


Needs: The Renewable team is pretty solid at most positions but some of their newer players tend to take time off during night games or, oddly, when there isn’t a cool breeze to help them relax. SO they are looking for someone or something to act as a base load while their mercurial stars wait for their moment in the sun.


Pick: Last year this team was stacked and they let the clock expire without making a pick. Determined not to let that happen again, the team decided they needed a recognizable standard-bearer and drafted none other than EV evangelist and Tesla/Twitter magnate Elon Musk, although they couldn’t be sure because they couldn’t actually verify his blue check. I’m sure this will end well.


The 9th overall pick this year goes to Norway. Norway is a long-time player in the energy league but for quite a long time has preferred to operate under the radar.


Last Season: This past season, was an eye-opener for Norway and pretty much every other team in the league. Their year started with them counting the trillions of dollars in their sovereign wealth fund and how they would allocate it against the cap and finished with them becoming one of the most important energy suppliers to Western Europe, helped along the way by, not necessarily in order of importance, the NordStream Pipeline sabotage, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, sanctions on Russian energy, Canadian indifference, German LNG offtake facilities, a general thirst for energy and lots of oil and natural gas. While viewed by many as a beacon of environmental responsibility and stewardship, the reality is that Norway is the land of the Viking – a marauding and plundering horde intent on world domination and Thor’s hammer this time is energy.


Needs: Not much. They have money and commodities. And the will to develop the latter to maximize the former. Recently the government implored their energy team to squeeze out every last drop – talk about a motivational speech!


The pick: Plausible deniability in the Nord-Stream sabotage. No country, except maybe Qatar (coulda been us Canada!), has benefitted more from the bombings of these two pipelines. SKOLL!!!!


The 10th and last pick of the draft belongs to Saudi Arabia, perennial favourite, founder of this and its onetime rival league OPEC.


Last season: As always, Saudi Arabia started out as the favourite, won the most games, dominated the headlines, the stat sheets, the press, talk radio, the playoffs – you name it. They won the season going away, crushed the spirit of any team they faced and easily locked down the championship. They are the perennial favourite and this coming year will be no different.  They don’t even have cheating scandals to hang around their necks.


Needs: Absolutely none. How do we know that? History. Plus, Saudi Arabia has the bankroll and the cap space to wait anyone out – just ask the United States, or Russia, or Iran, or Venezuela.


The Pick. There is no weakness on their roster. Their farm teams are stacked, they have a massive cost advantage. Last year, they drafted some industrial scale solar, just to tease the rest of the league. True to form this year, the Saudis decided to draft some carbon capture and hydrogen, because why not. Not only will they win this space, but they will win the ESG battle as well.


Before I leave this flea-bitten, beaten to death analogy, I have to acknowledge the previously discussed Mr. Irrelevant.


So, with pick number #60, which based on how the draft order works typically falls to the #1 draft position team, Canada decided to pick, purely as a flyer, fast track coastal LNG approvals. Seems like a wing and a prayer for sure given the potential for lawsuits, but who knows. Stranger things have happened.


Now go watch the movie Draft Day.


Vontae Mack. No matter what.

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