WORLD PETROLEUM CONGRESS: Responsible operations, economic development can coexist

The environmental challenges facing the global petroleum industry emerged as a major theme at the first plenary session today at this week's World Petroleum Congress in Calgary. But speakers agreed that rising to those challenges doesn't preclude simultaneous economic development.


CALGARY�The environmental challenges facing the global petroleum industry emerged as a major theme at the first plenary session today at this week's World Petroleum Congress in Calgary. But speakers agreed that rising to those challenges doesn't preclude simultaneous economic development.

The petroleum industry everywhere faces increasing requirements for socially and environmentally acceptable operations, said Robert B. Peterson, chairman, president, and CEO of Imperial Oil Ltd., Toronto. These demands include growing pressure for greenhouse gas reduction and more government standards.

The petroleum industry will succeed in this environment through improved efficiency and technical innovation, Peterson predicts. He believes changes will be even greater in the next 40 years than the massive change that has taken place during his 40 years in the industry.

Petroleum energy and the industry that provides it have been driving forces for industrialization, economic development, and rising standards of living, says Peterson, who goes as far as to say that the 20th Century would not have unfolded as it has without hydrocarbons.

Describing Canada's legislative approach was Canadian Resources Minister Ralph Goodale, who said Canadian policy is aimed at an astute marriage between smart economic performance and smart environmental performance. Industry and government are committed to sustainable development, and the Canadian industry aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 47% between 1990 and 2010, he says. Goodale stressed that Canada is committed to a regulatory regime that balances economic and social objectives with fair, predictable, and transparent regulations.

Meanwhile, former Alberta Energy Minister Steve West, who is now provincial treasurer, told delegates said there�s no such thing as bad energy. He said energy activity will protect the environment, not destroy it, noting that, around the world, human poverty, more than anything else, destroys the environment.

West said Alberta�s aim, like Canada's as a whole, is to find a proper balance between sustainable development and environmental protection. Alberta is developing best processes to deal with emissions, including new standards for gas flaring, emissions trading, and the use of microturbines to use flare gas.

The Alberta minister also said the public must be educated and made aware that how they use energy is a key factor in reducing emissions.

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