It was the best of times, and the worst of times. The long awaited burial of 2016 came and went at the chime of midnight four days ago, leaving everyone with a blank sheet to start anew. For, 2016 was bleak, remorseful, counterproductive and frankly a complete waste for too many people in this industry. The arrival of 2017 should have been a harbinger of better tidings but, alas, judging by the early commentaries peppered across the social media land, morosity appears to be leading the way. I, for one, refuse to follow suit. To echo Churchill, it is the sort of pedantic nonsense up with which I will not put. Indeed, I look upon the freshly opened calendar and see nothing but a coruscating future. Even 2016 left us a legacy that is under-appreciated: the fall of the politically correct discourse. We can once again debate issues on their merits rather than dance around the edges lest some fragile soul’s specious opinions feel victimized.
Standing proud. I begin the new year with an unabashed embrace of all that is good with the oil, gas and nuclear industries. All hail Oil! All hail Gas! All hail Fermions! Yes, these industries are imperfect. Yes, they are not without blame or environmental accountability. Yes, they are non-renewable. I have no fear of accepting the ugly sides of their reality, as I have written in the past. But I reject the character assassination that has been perpetrated upon them by equally nefarious actors whose bellicose rants never fail to reveal the hypocrisy of their inaction. Rants and denigrations and utopian dreams cannot eradicate the fact that the energy that enables those objectors to oppose is supplied overwhelmingly by oil, gas, coal and nuclear sources. At the rate of 85% or more!
That figure alone suffices to place the non-renewable energy industries on a pedestal. For all the woes and wrongs that they may have perpetrated, and God knows they are multitudinous, the benefits that humans have accrued from them outshine whatever darkness may have glowed along the journey. As I wrote before, we owe our very modern existence to the freedom conferred upon us by these energy sources. Notwithstanding, there are more reasons to sing a paean in their honour. Employment is one of them. There are no other industries that can match the number of high paying jobs created by the energy sector. None. Forget software and apps and ride-sharing; they are one to two orders of magnitude lower in terms of head counts. Aviation and automotive come close. But energy jobs remain the greatest generators of national wealth among all legitimate industries.
True wealth. These jobs are supported by the largest recurring capital investment programs as well. No other industry spends as much on large-scale, mega projects (be they capex or opex) year in, year out. Governments everywhere trip over themselves to attract foreign investments in infrastructure programs for the very same reason: to create high paying jobs and inject their economies with jolts of cash infusions. Canada is a good example but a bad one as well: fixing pot holes and bridges, and building community centres in rent-taking regions isn’t infrastructure investment: it’s called routine maintenance and political pandering. No other industry can compete with the energy sector in terms of annual capital spending and job creation. The sector deserves adoration in this respect, not vilification.
The halcyon days of exploration are behind us, unfortunately. The rise of the renewable machines is underway and will not be stopped. Nor should it be. As a matter of fact, the energy sector is already playing a seminal part in the growth of green energies, through a generational paradigm shift in energy considerations. I have also written in this space about the unique role that the energy sector can play in pushing the green agenda further and faster. The sector sits on the cusp of a rare opportunity to transform itself while it propitiates the green transformation. This is an opportunity that requires leadership, vision and patience, one for which the sector is uniquely qualified to take on. It’s a role that might just be what the doctor ordered to change the public discourse towards a recognition of the inestimable gift that the energy sector has been to humanity.
It is what we should celebrate and stand proud, as we usher in this new year 2017. Which, by the way, should see the price of oil ascend towards $147 a barrel, if my oracular powers are correct!