Crude Observations


Okay fine. Let me have it. I know. I totally whiffed on my Super Bowl prediction and Patrick Mahomes did Patrick Mahomes nonsense when it counted and then some guy grabbed a short and it was all over for the Eagles.


Sigh, Eagles, sigh.

On the way to history.

Sigh, Eagles, Sigh.

Give up a touchdown, two or three.

Miss a tackle, hold a shirt.

And wave the Eagles bye.

Sigh, Eagles, sigh.

Not today for victory.

E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!


I hope I didn’t ruin the song too much. But I have to earn back some credibility after that big whiff. At any rate, the game is over now and the time for dissecting what happened is well past us. For the record, the game was lost on the defensive side of the ball and the tide turned on the Jalen Hurts fumble return for a TD. Even though they were in tight most of the remainder of the game, it felt like an uphill battle all the way.


Well now that that is over, time to move on, right? And I know I promised no blog this week, but news comes at you fast, you have to be able to react, so I am going to make this short and pithy.


Fresh off the heels of the R* debacle of last week, our fearless leaders in the UCP (well, Danielle Smith really) has decided to hit us with yet another committee of friendlies to analyze something that doesn’t need analyzing.


And no, I am not talking about the Preston Manning $2 million boondoggle about the province’s response to COVID. Although I did notice today that some other panelists have been named to this esteemed committee including, surprise, surprise, none other than Jack Mintz, fresh off his AHS board membership. Is it just me, or does Jack Mintz show up on every second (paid) committee that exists in this province? Like, there are other people. Do we need to make a call to someone in charge to let them know?


Anyway, this isn’t the boondoggle you are looking for.


No, we are on to the next one already. What I’m referring to here is the newly empannelled umm… panel whose purpose is to advise the Alberta government on the future of the energy industry.


To do this, the government reached into their bag of treats and pulled out three energy industry veterans whose backgrounds are pretty much exclusively in the oil and gas industry, albeit representative of the service sector, up/mid/downstream, regulatory and construction.


Notably absent is anyone having anything to do with renewables or climate or CO2 abatement or any of those things that have to do with, you know, other parts of the future of the energy industry. Just saying. Because you know, I’m not much for panels and stuff but I do like to get pan-industry representation done properly.


Now don’t get me wrong. Each of these panel members is a highly successful participant and contributor to the energy industry and experts in their field. I have met three of the five and can assure you that they are intelligent and well-versed in many aspects of the energy economy but I can’t shale the feeling that rather than looking forward this particular assortment runs the risk of being too concerned with what is in the rear-view mirror rather than what is barreling straight at us, in the wrong lane, at night.


Then of course there is the whole political angle to all of this, which appears to be inescapable in anything Danielle Smith does.


Much like the Preston Manning charade, Smith is once again appearing to deliver an attaboy favour to a one-time mentor and backer in Wildrose stalwart Dave Yaeger, while as it regards the balance of the panelists, all seem cut from the same UCP supporting cast.


If it were me (and of course it isn’t), I might have muddied the waters a bit by making the panel more inclusive of other energy types and maybe a few less card-carrying, Danielle Smith leadership supporting individuals.


It doesn’t pass the smell test. And the conclusions thus seem like they are pre-ordained.


On the other hand, maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe all of this is just to be a show and a distraction from the leadup to the election in May.


The panel isn’t to report until June. Curious. Clearly there is an expectation that the UCP will win and I can’t imagine what this crew is going to tell Rachel Notley:


“We need to produce more oil and natural gas. And process more of it here. And promote Petchem. And build more renewables. And lead in battery tech. And find a use for CO2 where it makes sense to have industrial levels of storage and processing. Then we’ll be net zero and able to produce more oil and gas. Oh, and nuclear too. That would be cool.”


Wait, did I just write a report?


But there is this voice in the back of my head that says there is method to Danielle’s madness and reasons why she is rolling out all these panels and what not in the lead up to the provincial election.


First, her term is potentially up in May, so to the extent that she has made promises or deals or whatever to secure support for her leadership bid, this is the price of admission. She gathers al these committees on all the dumb stuff that no one wants (Alberta Police, Pension, COVID enquiry), empanels some experts to hobnob on stuff everyone in Alberta likes (the energy sector and money, money, money) and sneakily tries to keep some anti-vax loons from going to jail by calling the prosecutors.


If she hits it out of the park in May and wins, she has her pick of stuff to implement post election, doesn’t have to make promises (I will abide by the recommendations of the panel) and has a clear lath to govern. If she loses in May, it all goes away but at least she has done what she told her supporters what she said she would do so her credibility is intact and she will live to fight another day, if the job of opposition leader keeps here attention long enough.


Simple right?


And none of these things are of the absolute looney tunes variety that they can be ridiculed mercilessly by the NDP like all the separatist nonsense and Alberta First crap.


How far in an election campaign do you think Rachel Notley can go complaining about a panel of industry veterans and executives trying to help chart the course of Alberta’s Energy Future. Opposition to that would be electoral suicide.


Even the dumbest ideas are hard to attack or create sustained animus against because they are, to put it bluntly, boring.


Finally, while the eggheads are busy studying the important economy-shifting big secular ideas of our time, the UCP government in the person of Danielle Smith is playing small ball on deeply personal issues that matter in the one electoral area (Calgary) where she needs to build her base back up and that the NDP considers vital. I’m referring specifically to acting tough on crime and public disturbance by deploying provincial sheriffs to perceived out of control areas like downtown Calgary, Edmonton and their transit systems. Or sending a provincial envoy (Rick McIver) to make sure Calgary’s arena doesn’t fall off the rails again. Or talking tough yet compassionately about drugs and treatment. Infrastructure. Or lecturing Justin Trudeau about transitions while awkwardly avoiding his handshake but still taking his $5 billion in increased health care funding.


This is very clever campaign strategy. And it is working.


One need only look at the latest polls to realize that the expected $80/$5 effect is taking hold in Alberta and the NDP is, to put it mildly, on the run and should be panicking.


The NDP trails the UCP suddenly by 5% in Calgary. A lot can change but unless Rachel Notley does the reset pretty quick, this race is over before it gets started. As someone I know suggested last year when the NDP was polling in the stratosphere – elections aren’t won in random summer polls. Only one matters.


I may even call it now. Absent any significant change, the UCP retains its majority in May. And it will be relatively easy.


Oh, and one last thing. I know you are asking. If I could put together a panel today to discuss the future of Alberta’s energy industry, who would I put on it?


Well, first off, if it’s discussing the future, I would certainly include younger people. From a broader walk of life even. And they would all come from Twitter. Because that is where I live my life.


Moderator – Yours truly. Only because I really want to be part of a government boondoggle. @stormontenergy


@andrew_leach because he’s a university professor, teaches environmental economics, has all the renewable bonafides, has that constitutional law thing going and as luck would have it has already been on a government panel. Sure it was the one that started the Alberta carbon tax, but it’s one of the few ones that works the way it is supposed to. Plus he has solar panels on his house, so he’s a legit greenster.


@WilliamLaceyYYC – Yes, the dude who wore an I love Canadian oil T-shirt to Ottawa. Also, an experienced financial executive and investment analyst who is well-versed in all aspects of the energy industry and lives for data. Plus the fireworks between him and Andrew could be fun but I think they would actually get along really well.


@rory_johnston – commodity insights. Need I say more? Energy economist. Data driller extraordinaire.


@Franks_Five – geologist. Fills the nerd quotient. Plus he’s young.


@SadBillAckman – Sad Bill Ackman. Clearly an industry participant. Skeptic. Cook. Bartender. Plus we just want to know who he is.


If this motley crew can’t solve all the ails the energy industry, I don’t know who can.

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