Imperial Oil CEO praises oil sands as safe, environmentally friendly
OTTAWA — Canada's oil reserves offer the only safe and most environmentally friendly source of energy to meet world demands over the next three decades, the top-ranking official at Imperial Oil Limited said Tuesday.
Speaking to a lunchtime business crowd, Bruce March, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of the energy company acknowledged that a shift to renewable energy was underway, but would not happen overnight.
"As these alternative energy sources are developed, they will gradually become more affordable," March said in a prepared speech. "But the transition to a more renewable energy will likely take 30 or more years. In the interim, hydrocarbon fuels are the only way to meet the demand I have described today in a manner that is reliable and affordable."
March said that the oilsands sector, a popular target of environmentalists and climate scientists, is an essential part of Canada's economic well-being, as well as a source of billions of dollars in tax revenues for governments.
Overall greenhouse gas emissions from the sector have more than tripled since 1990. Scientists believe that global emissions must peak over the next few years and then be dramatically reduced to avoid irreversible damage to the earth's ecosystems as well as significant impacts to the world's economy.
But March said that his company was working on new technologies to reduce energy and water consumption in its operations and reduce its overall environmental footprint.
"Our goal on land use is simple," he said. "After development is completed, we want no evidence that we were ever there."
He added that Imperial Oil would continue to improve "responsible development" of the oilsands in order to meet its expectations as well as those of stakeholders.
"Canadians should not have to choose between energy, security, economic well-being and a clean environment," he said. "It's not an either-or proposition. A healthy environment and a strong economy are important, and all of us should expect and be satisfied with nothing less."