Sept/Oct 2010

President's notes

Fueling the future

By Chris Twigge-Molecy


It is a fitting time to focus on coal and the oil sands, a major part of the Canadian mining sector. This country is a well-established, global-scale energy supplier, primarily to the United States. The axis of global demand has shifted, however. In July, the International Energy Agency reported China used four per cent more energy than the recession-hobbled U.S. last year. In the future, the primacy of China will become even more pronounced.

China’s per capita energy use is still one-third of that in the United States and Canada. In other words, they will need our energy resources. To meet the demand, Sinopec, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and PetroChina all have taken significant positions in the oil sands already, dwarfing the scale of Chinese investments in other Canadian-produced commodities such as iron ore, base metals and potash. Behind China will be India and other emerging economies for decades to come.

The resulting challenges of supply expansion will, however, be ours. We will need to ramp up development and construction in a balanced way in order to:

• Avoid the overheated labour markets we lived with only three years ago.

• Balance the competing water requirements of the energy developments, the agricultural sector and cities.

• Meet the needs of local communities, particularly with respect to employment and local issues such as the Gateway Pipeline to Kitimat and shipping oil to the Pacific Rim.

• Reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the escalating hydrocarbon demands.

As we in the industry rise to these challenges, the oil sands and coal producers among us need to tell their environmental and geopolitical stories clearly and often, while continuing to reduce the sectors’ environmental footprint. A look at the latest in extraction advances in the in situ sector, reclamation successes and industry-supported research initiatives are among such stories you will find in this issue.

Before closing, I would like to congratulate Doug Boyd, Torstein Utigard, Alan Plumtree, Stavros Argyropoulos and David Wilkinson, all longstanding CIM members recently appointed Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

I hope you find this issue both interesting and thought-provoking.

Chris Twigge-Molecy, CIM President

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