Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources

We are delighted to include below an op-ed from Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson. His schedule didn’t permit a face-to-face interview as we have done with his predecessors, but the Minister touched on a number of key issues that we wanted to explore in an interview, particularly the growing public concern of energy affordability, and the desire of Canadians to help Europe with energy security. Natural gas is key to addressing both public issues: Canada’s gas sector is uniquely qualified to keep energy affordable and help our allies — a win for all, and key to our economic well-being and global security. We look forward to working with the Minister and his colleagues on both of these.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine represents a violation of international law, an unprovoked attack against a peaceful people, and an assault on the international, rules-based order.

Canada stands in steadfast support of the Ukrainian people and our European friends and allies.

Several weeks ago, our government moved to ban imports of Russian oil, gas, and petroleum products. The US and the UK have since taken similar steps.

Putin’s invasion has driven up gas prices around the world, and these events have raised serious questions about energy security in Europe.

“Canada stands in steadfast support of the Ukrainian people and our European friends and allies.”

Here at home, our government is engaging the Competition Bureau to prevent price gouging. And the issue of affordability remains a central concern for the federal government. We will continue to work to make life more affordable — as we have over the last few years through programs like the Canada Child Benefit, low-cost childcare, and the Climate Action Incentive that puts more money back in people’s pockets.

And on the world stage, we’ll keep doing our part too.

Europe’s short-term focus is on eliminating their reliance on Russian gas through LNG imports that will displace Russian oil and gas, while its medium-term focus is on shifting as rapidly as possible to renewables and hydrogen.

European leaders have asked us to explore how Canada can help with both, and Canadians want to ensure we are doing what we can to assist Ukraine and Europe. So how can Canada help?

Canada is uniquely positioned to contribute to building a clean energy economy in the long term. We are already leaders in non-emitting technologies, and we have the raw resources required to build them.

Clean hydrogen is a fuel that Europe is particularly interested in. Canada is one of the top hydrogen producers in the world, and we are building on our existing strengths, with multiple billion-dollar hydrogen projects already underway across the country.

Just last week I attended a meeting with my counterparts at the International Energy Agency (IEA) to discuss how we could work together to ensure availability of critical minerals required for the energy transition.

The EU is Canada’s second largest export market for clean technologies. There are significant opportunities to build on this and create sustainable jobs in Canada in the process.

But we’re also looking at what we can do to assist our European friends in the short term.

There is currently much discussion around LNG — not just as a transitional fuel for the ongoing energy transition, but as a direct replacement for Russian gas in the immediate-term.

In order for such Canadian LNG exports to make sense in that context, we would need to demonstrate an ability to satisfy Europe’s short-term requirements. That is, we would need to get LNG to Europe while Europe still wants it, and we would need to do so in the context of delivering on Canada’s climate commitments.

Canada presently has no large-scale LNG facilities on our east coast. New infrastructure would therefore be required — and it would need to fit into European timelines for transitioning from LNG to non-polluting hydrogen.

Moreover, any such exports from Canada would need to demonstrate compatibility with critical climate objectives.

“There is currently much discussion around LNG — not just as a transitional fuel for the ongoing energy transition, but as a direct replacement for Russian gas in the immediate-term.”

In general, if LNG is to help enable the energy transition, its use must be directly tied to the displacement of higher-emitting fuels like coal or existing natural gas usage. We cannot say we are building an LNG facility and simply assume that it will displace hydrocarbon fuels.

As noted, the emissions associated with such exports would also need to fit within Canada’s emissions reduction targets, meaning emissions associated with a production facility would need to be very low. To avoid the risk of such facilities becoming stranded assets, such facilities would ideally be able to convert to the production of ultra-low-carbon hydrogen in the long term.

European leaders have been clear. They don’t just want to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas — they want to reduce reliance on oil and gas altogether.

As the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stated earlier this month, “it is our switch to renewables and hydrogen that will make us truly independent. We have to accelerate the green transition.”

Europe is doubling down on energy independence from Russia and on accelerating the transition to a low-carbon future. Canada is here to do anything it reasonably can to help.