There’s nothing like a serious winter cold snap to drive home the importance of the women and men who make up Alberta’s energy sector.
As severe cold gripped Alberta and neighbouring provinces in parts of December and January, sending some areas into a record deep freeze with temperatures – including windchill – dipping down to between -40 and -55 degrees, we were all affected in varying ways. Among other things, the effects of the Canadian cold spell hit the U.S. midwest, as natural gas exports to the region were reduced and prices surged higher, according to S&P Global.
As I write this column, Environment & Climate Change Canada warns that the extreme cold was likely to continue through the weekend for our province, and that “risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.”
While agriculture workers, road maintenance and safety crews, emergency services, postal workers and many others are always deserving of our thanks, in these times I’m especially grateful.
I’m sending that same gratitude to the men and women who show up, day after day, to keep Alberta’s oil and gas operations working through the bitter cold weather, as they focus on their safety and the safety of others. It’s an enormous task, and they’re truly Alberta’s unsung heroes.
But my appreciation for energy workers goes even further. In all types of weather, many kilometres away from their families, these men and women put in the hard work of keeping our electrical grid running, carrying out oil and gas services, installing or maintaining wind turbines and solar arrays, or building and managing our heating utilities and energy pipelines.
Let’s remember the vital role oil and gas play in maintaining, year-round, the safety and comfort of people of this province and others across the country, the continent and beyond.
From food production and transportation, to manufacturing, heating, cooling, healthcare and education, our energy workers support every aspect of Alberta society – whether or not we’re in the throes of an extreme cold snap. Sports equipment? It comes from oil and gas. Winter clothing? Ditto. Computers and electronics? Absolutely.
Add it all up and it’s no wonder natural gas consumption in Alberta hit a record high recently. While globally, demand for oil and gas isn’t just strong, it’s growing.
Equally important, there’s recognition the world needs all forms of energy – oil and gas, hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear and biomass. In Alberta, we have some of the largest wind and solar facilities in North America under construction, with more on the way. We need to have an inclusive conversation about how we can support all our energy opportunities, because that’s the reality of consumer demand around the world.
Once we get through the current Alberta cold snap, as we always do, let’s remember to thank our energy workers for continuing to show up, day after day, under extremely challenging conditions.
Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian natural resources sector and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.