A breakfast with public policy power players

Like all good breakfasts, it began with the distribution of $1 million. The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, however, is interested in quality discussion as well.

So, after the Imperial Oil Foundation donated $1 million to begin the Imperial Oil Distinguished Lecture Series on Oct. 30, ExxonMobil senior vice-president Andrew Swiger spoke about the world’s long-term energy needs.

“Canada is an especially important link in meeting the world’s energy needs,” said Swiger. The lecture, which took place at the Fairmont Palliser hotel in downtown Calgary, focused on the unique energy relationship between Canada and the United States, as well as the growing needs of developing countries around the world.

Swiger emphasized the role of the Alberta oilsands as a continuing source of energy for the world. But he also suggested improvements in the extraction technology for other resources will reshape the types of fuel the world consumes. Specifically, natural gas will play a larger part in contributing energy.

“We see an expanding gas framework that provides plenty of support for projects like the Mackenzie project,” said Swiger, referring to a large natural gas deposit in the Northwest Territories that companies have been interested in development for decades.

Aaron Griffith, a student with the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy, was interested in Swiger’s long-term outlook. Griffith has concerns about environmental sustainability, though.

“Whenever you have a company that is interested in developing wilderness areas there is always the concern that important factors will come second to quick development,” he said.

Griffith said he was optimistic that companies are generally improving in areas they were negligent towards in the past, however.

“We want to make sure that we’ll be able to provide energy long term, not just in the next decade or so.”

The Distinguished Lecture Series is focused on bringing in key voices in a variety of fields related to public policy. The contribution from the Imperial Oil Foundation will go towards funding the four-times yearly series, and will also support the SPP’s Energy for Life program.

In collaboration with a variety of other faculties on campus, the Energy for Life program is designed to produce innovative research on economic policy regarding energy, assessments of environmental impact and determine appropriate regulatory practices.

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