It was a cold spring day in the late ’90s when I was first asked as a Director at Union Gas Ltd to participate in an International Gas Union (IGU) Committee meeting that was taking place in Europe.
Ever since then, I have actively participated in the IGU, becoming more engaged with the passing years. My engagement took a big jump in 2009 under the Malaysian Presidency of the organization, when I was asked to chair a special task force on geopolitics and natural gas. This three-year project allowed me to gain a great insight into the natural gas and energy markets around the world. I came to much better understand the role that politics – and more specifically geopolitics – play in shaping energy policy and systems.
In 2016, I was asked to provide services to the newly created IGU public affairs function, and I assumed the role of Executive Director, Public Affairs. The aim of this role was to transform the IGU from a member service organization to one focused on advocacy, so as to position it to be the “Global Voice of Gas”.
The work has been fascinating, taking me to countries around the globe. I have had the honour and privilege of meeting heads of state, participating at G20 energy discussions, and engaging with many multilateral and industry organization thought leaders. I have attended many of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) sessions, including the historic COP 21 in Paris where Prime Minister Trudeau set his distinctive mark and committed Canada to its 30 per cent by 2030 emission cut.
In the process, I have discovered what it is to be Canadian. Born and raised on the Island of Cyprus, I immigrated to Canada in my early teens. But the real appreciation for my Canadian identify has come through my travels in my work over the last decade. It is truly humbling to be welcomed and admired as a Canadian. The world has incredible admiration and respect for Canada – a nation known for its high standards and ethics, its welcoming of peoples from all backgrounds from across the globe, its peaceful and ordered society.
What I have discovered, and because of all of the above, is that the world is willing and wants to invest in Canada and particularly in the energy sector. Internationals see the full potential of the extensive resources that Canada is blessed with and want to see our country play an important role in making these much needed resources available to the world.
Unfortunately, what I increasingly hear is that our regulatory approval processes have become so difficult to understand, so unpredictable, and so hard to navigate through, that investors can’t act on their desires to invest. I hear people around the world wonder aloud if Canada really wants to develop the resources we have to help the world around us.
As I look around the world, I see many examples where nations are being strategic about exploiting their resources and building needed infrastructure to deliver clean and abundant natural gas to needed markets.
Egypt has commercialized the Zohr field in record time and in the process not only have they once again become an exporter of natural gas but they are using it to fuel their economy. The recent Israeli gas finds have transformed that country’s power generation system. In just two years, the use of natural gas as a fuel in the power sector has increased from 25 per cent to close to 80 per cent, displacing imported and high-emitting coal. In Russia, the massive Yamal LNG plant was brought online, under budget and ahead of schedule, and is now supplying much-needed LNG to Asia and Europe. And not to mention the tremendous growth in LNG exports from our neighbours in the South.
Even under the current serious economic troubles in Argentina, shale gas development is proceeding as its development holds real promise for environmental and economic prosperity in the country and across the Southern Cone. In the UK, where coal production and use once reached almost 300 million tonnes per year, the market has dramatically changed thanks to the availability of gas resources and infrastructure, and growth in renewable energies.
Around the world major pipeline projects are also advancing well. Two examples are the Turkstream, and the Power of Siberia, projects. Both add diversity of supply and access to needed clean and affordable natural gas to developed and developing markets.
“The world needs Canadian energy.”
These are examples from around the world. Where are the Canadian examples?
If Canada truly wants to play a leadership role in reducing global emissions, in addressing the serious air quality problems in the major megacities of the world, and in bringing people out of energy poverty, we must work swiftly to change our game at home.
No country is an island when it comes to energy – the market is increasingly a global one, and Canada can play an important part in it.
The world needs Canadian energy. We have the highest environmental standards, an ethical and transparent business environment, and the world likes us.
Let us not waste this generational, national building opportunity.
Menelaos (Mel) Ydreos Executive Director, Energy Vantage Inc.