CEC provides invaluable data that helps inform policy development in Alberta

Lennie KaplanNews that the operations of the Canadian Energy Centre (CEC) are being folded into the Premier’s Office comes as no great surprise. In fact, it makes perfect sense from both a business case and risk management perspective.

However, reading through the so-called ‘post-mortem’ reports on the CEC, I am disappointed by the inference being circulated among some that the data collection and research and analysis activities undertaken by the CEC over the past four years did not provide significant value to support the government’s advocacy efforts, on both the national and international stage.

As a former Director of Research at the CEC, I feel the need to set the record straight about how CEC data collection and research and analysis activities supported government advocacy efforts.

The CEC Research Unit was established in December 2019 with a clear mandate to provide solid, credible, and comprehensive data collection and rigorous research and analysis to support advocacy efforts within the Alberta government. Our objective at CEC was to take oil and gas data, much of it not readily available publicly or accessible in one place, compile the data and accompanying research and analysis, and disseminate it in a user-friendly form to all audiences, including government policymakers and decision-makers.

Alberta Canadian Energy Centre cec
Related Stories
What to watch for in Canadian energy in 2024
New deal with Shell shows Canada is on the map for LNG

Backlash forcing Europe to scale back ambitious net zero policies

Data, research and analysis, including a defined peer review process, was the foundation for CEC activities. This valuable information base was and has always been available to government departments and agencies to inform policy development and to elected officials to inform decision-making and support energy advocacy activities.

I am proud that we at the CEC were “front of the pack” in examining, in a comprehensive manner, such critical issues as energy security, energy transformation, and the vital role that CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) and LNG, among other emission reduction technologies, will play in the evolving energy/ environment paradigm. By the time I left CEC at the end of October 2023, we had prepared over 90 fact sheets, 30 research briefs, 62 columns, and 54 research snapshots. This prodigious research, analysis, and data collection activity took place over just four years.

Some of the key issues the CEC raised included:

  • the impact of the Canadian oil and gas sector on the national and regional economies
  • the value-added linkages between the oil and gas sector and other key industries
  • assessing the future use of CCUS in the oil and gas sector
  • assessing the future of Canadian LNG in world markets
  • progress on reducing upstream oil and gas and oil sands emissions intensity
  • Canada’s “best in class” performance in reducing gas flaring
  • private and public environmental protection expenditure in Canada
  • the demographics of employment and incomes of Canadians in the oil and gas extraction sector, including among women, new Canadians and Indigenous peoples
  • net zero risk assessment in the Canadian upstream oil and gas sector and oil sands subsector, and
  • illustrating the declining supply costs in the Canadian upstream oil and gas sectors.

In the past two years, CEC also re-oriented its data collection and research and analysis activities with a strategic focus on engaging reputable third-party experts, such as Rystad Energy, IHS Markit/S&P Global Commodity Insights, Wood Mackenzie and Navius Research, among others, to prepare and/or assist in comprehensive studies on topics of critical importance to the Canadian energy sector, including the prospects for Canadian LNG in world markets, the impact of federal climate change policies on the Canadian and Alberta economies and the oil and gas industry, and net zero risk assessment for the Canadian oil and gas sector and federal and provincial finances.

All this solid, credible, comprehensive data collection and rigorous research and analysis is publicly available on the CEC website. To Albertans, Canadians and those from other countries, please don’t let the personal agendas and lack of awareness among some who call themselves informed (they are not) keep you from examining the data, research, and analysis platform that the Canadian Energy Centre created. Take the time to go to the CEC website, read, evaluate, and discuss its data and research and analysis work. In this respect, I want to thank the colleagues I worked with at the Canadian Energy Centre for their dedication and hard work in the face of a number of daunting challenges. My CEC colleagues are good people, doing good work.

Finally, I am encouraged by the Premier’s commitment to ground the government’s future energy advocacy activities in the solid, credible, comprehensive data and rigorous research and analytical framework that the CEC provided government policymakers and decision-makers. I believe the Premier will find a solid foundation of data and CEC research and analysis to support her critical advocacy activities on behalf of the Canadian energy sector and Canadians.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Read commentaries from the Canadian Energy Centre]

Lennie Kaplan spent over two decades in the public service of Alberta, including nearly four years in the Research Unit of the Canadian Energy Centre (CEC), with the last two years as CEC’s Executive Director of Research. He retired in October 2023.

For interview requests, click here.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

© Troy Media
Troy Media is an editorial content provider to media outlets and its own hosted community news outlets across Canada.