Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members.
Good morning. I'm Peter Boag, president of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute. With me this morning is Mr. Tony Macerollo, our vice-president of public and government affairs.
We certainly appreciate the opportunity to meet and speak with you today on the subject of competitiveness of the Canadian agricultural sector.
By way of introduction, the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute represents the refining and marketing sector of the petroleum industry, what's commonly known as the downstream petroleum sector. Our aim as an institute is to advance best practices in regard to the environment and health and safety, as well as to provide information on the industry in order to assist in sound public policy development.
The agricultural sector is important to our members for three principal reasons: one, the agricultural sector is a large and important customer of our members; two, the emergence of renewable fuels is creating new collaborative relationships with our members; and three, CPPI members are also neighbours of much of the agricultural community, from refining and terminal facilities to pipelines.
For a moment, consider the following facts from Statistics Canada, taken from the 2006 agricultural census. There are nearly 250,000 farms in Canada, with nearly 750,000 tractors worth $13 billion, 500,000 trucks worth over $5 billion, 300,000 cargo and pickup vans worth $3.5 billion, 100,000 combines worth $4 billion, and 750,000 pieces of tillage and cultivation equipment, swathers, mower conditioners, and passenger vehicles, worth about another $6.5 billion.
That's a lot of expensive equipment that requires high-quality fuel to operate. Providing high-quality fuel choices to farmers and other consumers is the principal preoccupation of CPPI members. For Canada's agricultural sector, quality fuel equals productivity and competitiveness. Simple things can be important, like ensuring the fuel delivered to farmers' tanks operates dependably year-round.
So what have we been doing to deliver on our commitment to high-quality fuel choices? Reducing sulphur content has been a major focus during the past decade. This multi-billion-dollar investment program started with the reduction of sulphur in diesel for heavy-duty trucks and on-road applications, from 500 parts per million to 15 parts per million. This phase was completed in 2006.
CPPI members are now in the process of reducing sulphur content in off-road diesel, diesel principally used on farms, from 500 parts per million to 15 parts per million. This process began in 2007 and will be complete by June 2010.
Reducing sulphur in diesel protects the environment and human health through the reduction of harmful emissions from diesel-powered engines and equipment. The phased approach that we've taken ensures that the level of sulphur in diesel fuel used in off-road engines—farm vehicles, for example—will not impede the effective operation of advanced emission control technologies.
Our most important contribution to ensuring the competitiveness of the Canadian agricultural sector is ensuring a highly productive refining sector in Canada. Our members work hard to ensure that all consumers, including farmers, have access to high-quality, competitively priced fuels.
I'm happy to say that Canadian consumers, including farmers, benefit from fuel costs that are among the lowest in the western world, generally second only to those in the United States. This fact is supported by data provided by independent third-party analysts, and I think we have for distribution later an example of some of that data, which shows where Canadian prices and costs relate to those of competitors around the world.
An evolving relationship between the refining and marketing sector and the Canadian agricultural sector is the evolution and use of biofuel blends using ethanol and renewable diesel. CPPI recognizes that this represents a new area of economic opportunity for the agricultural sector under the right conditions. Indeed, several CPPI members themselves are very active in the biofuel marketplace.
Shell is one of the world's largest distributors of first-generation transport biofuels. Shell and my colleagues at logen Corporation are considering investing in a full-scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Saskatchewan, with potential opportunities for farmers to find new markets for wheat straw.
Husky Energy's Minnedosa ethanol plant is one of the largest plants of its kind in western Canada, producing some 130 million litres of ethanol per year. That's matched by a second plant in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, which also produces that quantity of ethanol. Together these plants make Husky the largest producer and marketer of ethanol in western Canada.
In Ontario, Suncor Energy has its own specific relationship with the agriculture sector, including an investment relationship with a group of farmers. Suncor's St. Clair ethanol plant has a current production capacity of 200 million litres per year. A $120-million expansion is under way and is expected to double its capacity to 400 million litres per year.
The plant currently uses 20 million bushels of corn annually, approximately 10% of Ontario's annual corn crop. Of course, that consumption will double when the expansion is completed.
Many of you will know that in 2006, CPPI supported the desire of the federal government to implement a national renewable fuels mandate. In partnership with our colleagues at the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, we offered an agenda and key elements for its successful implementation.
We appeared last year before this committee as it was examining Bill C-33. We supported its passage but cautioned that time was running out for implementation of a 2010 mandate.
We are now here almost one year later, and, I am sorry to say, we have to inform members of this committee that there have been more than a few hiccups with the implementation of the renewable fuels strategy that will make its launch, in our view, much less optimal than it could have been.
When the notice of intent to require renewable content in transportation fuel was published in December 2006, there were few provincial mandates in place. This is no longer the case. The hard reality is that the proliferation of provincial mandates has created a patchwork of different fuel requirement that, in the end, may create additional barriers to the efficient and free movement of product between provinces.
The notice of intent quite rightly estimated a regulatory design period of about two years. It is complicated for the federal government and for fuel providers. It's not a simple matter.
Had things gone according to plan, the plans laid out in the December 2006 NOI, I wouldn't be relaying these concerns to you today. Unfortunately, the government has not met its path forward and timetable as laid out in the NOI.
In the absence of regulatory certainty, CPPI members have been constrained in their ability to move forward to complete implementation planning and infrastructure investment and acquire the necessary approvals from provincial and local jurisdictions.
As a result of the delays encountered since the December 2006 publication of the NOI, the majority of CPPI members will be unable to meet a 5% renewable mandate for gasoline beginning in January 2010.
This is a fixable problem, but it will involve some compromise and creativity. In terms of timing, I suggest that a 2012 implementation period for both the 5% renewable content in gasoline and the 2% biodiesel would be more appropriate. At a minimum, a flexible and phased approach will be required.
It is unfortunate that it has come to this. Regardless, there are only so many hours in the day to accomplish the work that needs to be done. We don't yet have the regulatory certainty for much of that work to proceed without causing potential negative unintended consequences for consumers like farmers.
I should say that we have not stood still, though, in that intervening period. In particular, we have been working hard to better understand how biodiesel solutions in particular might apply in a Canadian setting. This is especially important for farmers, as significant users of diesel fuel all the way from the tractor to the furnace that heats the farm.
We have been an active partner in projects related to renewable diesel. CPPI supported the Alberta renewable diesel demonstration project, led by Shell and Climate Change Central, and is now working on a NRCan- sponsored Imperial Oil biodiesel research project in Sarnia.
In the Alberta project, the ARDD has shown that B2 blends of canola, methyl ester, and 2% blends of hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel are fully operable in winter conditions in the study area when cloud points are adjusted to meet CGSB requirements. The demonstration has also shown that B5 blends can be successfully made and used in shoulder and summer seasons.
We gained a critical understanding on the infrastructure requirements of quality assurance precautions essential to ensuring, in particular, proper cold flow properties of biodiesel blends in winter conditions.
The next challenge will be to move from the controlled conditions of the successful demonstration project to a real-world rollout in real time. Petroleum refiners and marketers must now ensure that we can reliably supply customers, such as farmers, through a complex national distribution network that includes thousands of retail outlets across the country, many of which are independently owned and operated.
Successfully bringing biodiesel to market on this scale will require a considerable amount of work and expense to be undertaken by fuel suppliers. There are standards issues as yet unresolved, only a limited distribution infrastructure, and several outstanding issues with regard to storage, blending, and transportation of biodiesel.
The key finding of the Alberta demonstration is that considerably more jet-type aviation kerosene fuel must be added to the petroleum blend stock in 2% and 5% biodiesel blends to ensure that these blends will work in Canadian weather conditions. Canada is a current net importer of this type of fuel, which could increase our reliance on foreign fuel sources.
CPPI members are committed to meeting quality standards and the expectations of consumers. Governments must be careful that the design of mandates doesn't lead to operational problems--for example, the waxing of fuel in cold weather conditions. An ongoing biodiesel research project in Sarnia is addressing some of the additional challenges, particularly those that relate to the stability of biodiesel blends in low-temperature conditions.
It's also important to acknowledge that many questions have been raised globally since the publication of the NOI about the merits of biofuels. These questions span a wide range of issues, from the life cycle environmental performance of biofuels to issues regarding the food-for-fuel issue, to massive subsidization globally of biofuels. This larger debate over the role and merits of biofuels is best left to other forums; however, I will emphasize the important need for robust and credible life-cycle analysis to support a biofuel agenda driven by an environmental performance policy objective. In the absence of this, I urge you to carefully review the use of CEPA for mandating renewable transportation fuel requirements. I might add that Canada will never be able to match the generous biofuel subsidy program regime south of the border.
I do want to end on a positive note and reinforce that CPPI supports a thriving Canadian agricultural economy. We are partners, and from time to time we may have differences of opinion and get caught in situations that may seem intractable, but there's always been a solution. Canadian petroleum refiners are committed to finding appropriate solutions to the challenges that we face today, particularly with respect to the implementation of the federal RFS.