Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Alberta in a Global Perspective Partly Because of Oil Sands

The oil sands have put Alberta on the world stage in many ways.  The size of the reserves is enough to turn heads.  The size of the capital investment for development in billions of dollars is another attention grabber.  Then we have the negatives of a branding of "dirty oil" and climate change implications that have become part of the international Alberta "brand" as a result of oil sands.

There is much more to the oil sands and their implications beyond these macro issues including the social impacts of rapid development in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, aboriginal relationships and the impact rest of the province and benefits for future generations.  Add the issues of water usage, habitat protection, conservation offsets and reclamation issues, especially around tailings ponds and you get a more complex but still incomplete picture.

Then consider Alberta's emerging as an international energy force and our opportunities beyond continental North America in places like China and India.  Then the narrative becomes even more interesting and complex.  The Institute for Public Policy at the University of Alberta Department of Economics is sponsoring an event in Edmonton May 9-10 to address the opportunities for Alberta in the light of the power shift to China and India.  My business partner Satya Das is chairing one of the panels as part of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada initiative known as the "National Conversation on Asia."

This conference will look at the trade opportunities for Alberta with China and India in raw materials, manufactured goods, technology, education and business services.  Can a middle power and multi-cultural country like Canada and a resource rich province like Alberta exploit the opportunities in these "burgeoning markets?

Topics include the Economies and the Financial systems, Innovative Partnerships, Energy and the Environment, Agriculture, Business Opportunities in Alberta .  Satya's Chairing the Energy and Environment session with participation from the Canadian Centre for Clean Coal/Carbon and Mineral Processing Technologies, the Centre for Economic Studies at Jawaharal Nehru University, the Research Centre for Sustainable Development, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Joe Doucet, the Enbridge Professor of Energy Policy at the U of A School of Business.