Alberta and Central Alberta were well-represented at the recent World Heavy Oil Congress in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Cal Dallas, the province’s international and intergovernmental relations minister, and Gary Slipp, manager of Central Alberta: Access Prosperity, both took part in the Sept. 10 to 13 energy event.
Dallas, who is the MLA for Red Deer south, said the congress gave him an opportunity to pitch the attractiveness of Alberta to foreign investors.
“I had a couple private meetings with companies both interested in doing business in Alberta and wanting to talk about prospects of further energy development in Alberta.”
He said his priorities at the congress were investment attraction, reaching out to companies with valuable technology and expertise — especially in the area of environmental protection, and sharing ideas about training and educating workers. He helped with a presentation about the economics of heavy oil development in Alberta, delivered a keynote speech about sustainable resource development, and participated in a panel discussion about heavy oil in a “socio-economic and global-political context.”
Dallas said he realized that the balancing act Alberta faces when it comes to oilsands development is not unique to this province.
“There are many jurisdictions around the world that have some opportunities to develop resources and essentially are faced with many of the same questions.”
Slipp was also busy. He spoke to a group that promotes trade between Scotland and Canada, and joined other Alberta economic development officials in pitching the merits of this province.
“My message was basically to elevate the idea that there’s more to Alberta than Edmonton and Calgary, and that as the third largest in the province, Red Deer and the surrounding area offers a lot of business opportunities to international companies.”
Slipp said he was pleased with the contacts he made, which included industry officials from Mexico, China and Scotland.
“I think we met our goal of elevating the region’s brand. We certainly made a lot of contacts that will now require follow-up and continual reminder of what’s available here.”
Dallas also spent time with Aberdeen’s Lord Provost, which is the equivalent of a mayor. Because the Scottish city is an energy city — given its proximity to the North Sea oil reserves — they had many areas of common interest.
Alberta companies are playing a key role in the work related to the extraction of North Sea oil, pointed out Dallas.
“There’s a lot of Alberta influence already in the area.”
Dallas also spent a few days in Germany, where he met with two senior ministers from the state of Saxony. He said they discussed the importance of reaching a Canada-European Union free trade agreement, and also talked about the proposed EU fuel quality directive — which Canada argues would unfairly discriminate against oilsands bitumen.
“For the oilsands-derived product to be singled out for treatment that isn’t based on scientific merit, we find troubling,” said Dallas, adding that Germany seems receptive to Canada’s case.
Dallas was supposed to meet with government and industry officials in Italy, but instead returned to Canada following Peter Lougheed’s death. He managed to speak to a group of Italian entrepreneurs by way of a teleconference on Thursday.