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Canadian energy industry looks at how it can supply the world without help from U.S.

A flare stack lights the sky from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton on December 28, 2018. A group with roots in the oil and gas industry is encouraging women to talk about politics this fall, even if they hold widely different views. The non-profit organization, called Canada Powered by Women, registered as a third-party advertiser with Elections Canada last month,and has received $32,500 in contributions from several Calgary-based people and businesses so far. That includes $25,000 from Susan Riddell Rose, the CEO of Perpetual Energy Inc., a natural-gas company. Lucy Miller, a former head of the United Way of Calgary, said the idea for the group began when some women got together over the summer and started talking about the Oct. 21 election. "They came together because they were concerned about what's been happening in the country over the last four years," said Miller, the spokeswoman for the group, who noted the carbon tax brought in by the Liberal government Justin Trudeau was one of the shared concerns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Canada’s energy sector wants to stop being dependent on the United States and work on playing a larger role in supplying the rest of the world.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) says the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has highlighted why Canadian energy is needed.

“We see high prices for both oil and gas, there’s a global shortage brought on by several years of under-investment and that’s being exacerbated by the war in Europe,” said Tim McMillan, President and CEO of CAPP.

“I think there’s a large demand for Canada to play a larger role in supplying our allies, but the infrastructure needs to be built out if we’re going to play that role.”

Reports of labour shortages in Canada’s oil and gas industry along with other sectors have raised some concerns. Energy experts say a lot of money has left the industry and years of low prices have led to underinvestment.

“We’ve seen a lot of money leave the industry, and when you see that much money leave an industry, there’s going to be consequences,” Mark Scholz, president and chief executive of the Canadian Association of Energy Contractors (CAOEC) told the Canadian Press.

“It’s impacted our ability to attract people into the industry, to grow as an industry.”

While CAPP is concerned about labour shortages, the organization’s president explains there are other issues that pose more immediate troubles.

“The lack of labour in our economy is a concern in our industry, as I think for many others,” McMillan said.

“I think in the medium term that labour will not be the constraint on Canada’s capacity to be a larger supplier to our European allies, it will be government will and infrastructure. I think we need to be pushing as a nation to play a larger role internationally.”

McMillan says the federal government needs to step its game up and help expand the energy sector.

“Provinces have been very supportive of building up this infrastructure. Here in Alberta our government has gone to substantial lengths to try and move projects forward. On the federal side, I think there’s been more challenge [but] there’s been positives.”

He explained there are several projects which would help export energy directly to Europe from Canada without the need of going through the States.

“It really would take our federal government identifying those as national priorities and making it a national effort to get them built in a timely fashion to alleviate the energy scarcity in Europe,” he added.

“The ironic piece right now is we are sending Canadian gas around the world, we’re sending Canadian energy around the world, the problem is we are 100 per cent reliant on our US partners to be our broker.”

A spokesperson for Alberta’s energy minister says the government “supports all projects that will help get Alberta’s responsible energy to market.”

“If not for past mistakes by Ottawa, there would already be infrastructure in place to help Canada better support global energy security in Europe and around the world,” reads a statement from the spokesperson.

“We need to take real steps to create real global energy security for the long-term. That means continuing to be a trusted ally and reliable energy supplier to the U.S., our closest partner. It also means building the infrastructure to improve access to other international export markets.”

Despite repeated pipeline issues between Canada and the U.S., McMillan says he isn’t dismissing them as a partner.

“[The US] is a good partner, they are our largest customer, but there are substantial projects which would connect Canadian resources to the world and to Europe specifically that would have no access to the States required,” he explained.