Quick -- behind Saudi Arabia, which country has the second largest wealth of crude oil? Canada, our neighbors to the North, are sitting on between 60 and 70 billion barrels of oil, according to this morning's Energy & Economy panel. We also heard from Kyle Isakower this afternoon that crude oil is here to stay, at least for the the foreseeable future. So how is Canada planning to reconcile the ever-increasing global demand for oil with its conservative population and moderate regulation?
Peter Hodson of Queen's University mentioned that the chemical fingerprint of oil sand extraction is inescapable, and to date the environmental science monitoring has been funded through the government and joint industry partners. Preston McEachern, of Alberta Environment, explained that there is a tremendous amount of natural water that runs through the oil sands environment, leading to a natural pollution of downstream waters. By this extension, McEachern argued that there is little to validate concerns over expanded oil sands production, because environmental scientists have not been able to decouple the increased watershed pollution of production from that which occurs naturally in runoff.
As Canada approaches this problem, there are a number of solution pathways available. For one, I have had the chance to interact with Norwegian scientists and engineers -- particularly in the context of Statoil, the national oil company of Norway. Because Statoil is owned by the Norwegian people, they enforce some of the strictest environmental regulations on the planet. Despite this, they are able to produce a phenomenal amount of oil (and profit) for the country, through joint industry projects with other global energy producers. This may not be an entirely appropriate solution for Canada, but it's certainly a model that has been successful in the past.