Trudeau's mandate for Natural Resources Minister omits mention of pipelines

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens during the first North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) since 2016 in the East Room at the White House November 18, 2021.
Canada is the world’s fourth-largest producer of both oil and natural gas. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mandate letter to Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is heavy on guidance to transition Canada's economy to net-zero emissions. Absent are direct references to the nation's oil and gas sector, beyond instructions to cap emissions and phase out public financing.

The nearly 2,700-word directive spells out a lengthy list of the Liberal government's green priorities, ranging from bringing the electricity grid to net-zero by 2035, to adding 50,000 new electric vehicle chargers and hydrogen stations.

Canada is the world's fourth-largest producer of both oil and natural gas. A recent report by the Canada Energy Regulator found oil production will rise for the next decade, peaking at 5.8 million barrels per day in 2032, before starting to decline by 2050.

The scant mention of the oil and gas sector also comes as the industry faces persistent challenges related to pipelines and exports to foreign markets.

Calgary-based Enbridge Energy (ENB.TO)(ENB) is locked in a multi-year legal and political battle with state officials in Michigan seeking to shut down a pipeline that runs beneath a channel linking two of the Great Lakes. Meanwhile, Calgary-based pipeline giant TC Energy (TRP.TO)(TRP) is seeking compensation from the U.S. government for the cancellation of the cross-border Keystone XL expansion project by U.S. President Joe Biden when he took office in January.

Trudeau's Jan. 15 mandate letter to Seamus O'Regan, Wilkinson's predecessor on the natural resources file, referenced a need to "seize market opportunities to create good jobs." However, this language appears to be in the context of adapting to the impacts of climate change.

In his Dec. 13, 2019 letter to O'Regan, Trudeau instructed the minister to "identify opportunities to support workers and businesses in the natural resource sectors that are seeking to export their goods to global markets," he wrote. "This includes working to construct and complete the twinning of the Trans Mountain Pipeline."

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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