Wednesday July 23, 2014


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To each, according to his energy needs

Last Angry Man

Ever wonder why gasoline prices are so high?

I know there are myriad explanations for why we in the Peace are routinely paying well over a dollar per litre every time we fill up our vehicles, despite residing in a country that produces significant amounts of oil and natural gas, despite living in a nation where oil refineries do exist and the technology necessary to use natural gas – which is an incredible bargain right now – as a transportation fuel is available.

I have an idea of my own.

It is admittedly the product of approximately one minute of not-exactly-serious thought, but I feel it is a solid idea anyway.

I should warn you that it might sound a bit socialist, however.

The situation is that there is essentially a set number of oil and natural gas plays in Canada. Even the world. And we are already tapping into most of those resources, now using unconventional technologies that are producing incredible yields of oil and natural gas from reservoirs such as the Alberta oil sands and the myriad shale gas plays that are so prevalent in North America.

But despite these huge volumes of fossil fuels coming from a finite number of reservoirs, there is apparently no limit to the number of oil companies – and the number of high paid oil executives by extension – who can try their hand at turning oil into gold for their own financial gain.

All of those companies are fundamentally identical, all performing fundamentally identical functions, all led by fundamentally identical executives.

Who are all given hefty paychecks as reward for their work.

Judging by the reaction to the probably inevitable CNOOC acquisition of Nexen, many of us in North America are no big fans of the concept of state-owned oil companies. But if you look at the negative economic impacts for the rest of society in terms of high gasoline prices restraining certain economic activity, as a relatively small portion of the economy – the oil company executives – benefit the most, the idea really doesn’t look that bad at all.

Think about it in terms of necessities.

We live in a world where energy is necessary. We live in a world where energy derived from oil and natural gas continues to be a necessity regardless of what might be said by the environmentalist proponents of wind and solar power. We live in a world where mitigating the negative environmental effects of producing and consuming those fossil fuels is also a necessity.

Climate change is real by the way.

And we Canadians also live in a country where we are accustomed to having various necessities ranging from health care to law enforcement administered by our government.

Why not one other necessity?

Take the money-making power out of the hands of those who simply want to be rich executives and put it in the hands of the government – and we are that government – and professionals along the lines of the engineers and geologists that really keep the oil and gas industry humming, not to mention the men and women who toil in the trenches of the service sector, the men and women who really guarantee that we have natural gas to heat our homes and oil to fuel our engines.

Make the would-be executives flex their entrepreneurial muscles and take a few risks building the alternative energy and environmental protection industries to the point where production and consumption of oil and natural gas are no longer environmental hazards of any shape or form.

Make them build that industry – that economy.

Maybe we will force them to relinquish their control of that business to the government someday, too. We can discuss and debate that possibility when that day finally arrives.

Until then, we will pay a little less for our gas.

Just an idea.



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