Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to address the finance committee today.
I represent Precision Drilling, a proud Canadian oil and gas drilling and well-servicing contractor.
I believe the Canadian conventional and in situ oil and gas drilling industry has been an unintended victim of an international anti-oil sands mining campaign. As a result, our industry has been weathering a deep and severely damaging multi-year downturn, and now we're facing a total collapse as the downturn is further compounded by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 shutdown and the recent oil price war.
The drilling industry is a labour-intensive service business that creates jobs for hundreds of thousands of Canadians from every province and territory of this country.
I was born and raised in Alberta, a third-generation oil and gas worker, and I am one of those several hundred thousand prospective oil and gas workers. There should be no doubt that the Canadian conventional oil and gas industry is perhaps the cleanest, the most efficient, and without a doubt, the most socially responsible hydrocarbon energy source globally.
Canada is viewed as a model for operational and environmental excellence. As a result, Canadian oil and gas workers are sought out globally for leadership, engineering, regulatory and operational roles.
During my 38-year career, I've worked in oil and gas fields around the world, from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait, Norway, Russia, Colombia and, of course, the United States.
This Canadian excellence is due in large part to a very unique combination of comprehensive federal and provincial regulatory frameworks, our harsh winter conditions, the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit, and most importantly, our deep Canadian social and environmental conscience.
Canadian oil and gas leads the world with innovations in drilling processes, reducing our environmental footprint, reducing GHGs, delivering exceptional operational efficiency while leading socially for workers' rights, and creating successful first nations partnerships, all while investing socially in the communities in which we operate.
While the macroeconomics of supply and demand drive the commodity prices and strongly influence the ability of our industry to function, several uniquely Canadian challenges have manifested over the past several years and threatened the sustainability of our industry.
As I mentioned at the start, the Canadian conventional oil and gas industry has been collateral damage to what amounts to a war against oil sands mining. The anti-pipeline and anti-oil sands rhetoric, all designed to constrain oil sands investment, has decimated the conventional oil and gas industry. Further, we have domestic and foreign NGOs, and even Canadian political leaders, demonizing the oil and gas industry as a whole. For example, natural gas, which has excellent lower emissions and a clean replacement for coal, has become a target. Gas pipelines and gas exports have also become a target, and this is incomprehensible.
The major impact has been a swift and severe reduction in foreign investment in the Canadian natural resources sector. In fact, many investors now view Canada as having a significantly higher political risk, resulting in investors moving their capital to other jurisdictions. An un-investable Canada is an economic problem for all Canadians.
For Precision, this means that today we employ less than 800 Canadians. In 2014, the comparable number was over 4,000. The majority of our 600 corporate staff positions have migrated to Houston, and our leadership team, including myself are now domiciled in Houston where the long-term prospects remain strong.
As a Canadian, I could not be more disappointed by the destruction of good and responsible energy opportunities here in Canada, and especially the jobs. Canadians have been endowed with excellent geology, a strong and noble social and environmental conscience, and most importantly, a dedicated and productive workforce. It is our obligation as leaders to continue to demonstrate to the world how Canada is the preeminent model for conventional oil and gas development.
Recently, the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors wrote to the Minister of Finance, calling on the federal government to support our beleaguered industry. The federally funded well reclamation program is a good start, but I am afraid the industry will need much more.
Also recently, the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors submitted to the Province of Alberta a construct for a financial grant package. The program is intended to encourage drillers to accelerate investments in the safety, recertification and maintenance of our drilling equipment. These investments will provide immediate industry employment while positioning the drillers to respond safely and efficiently for an eventual rebound in activity. Like the well-abandonment program, this could be a joint provincial-federal program and I encourage you to look into this.
I firmly believe that the federal government must encourage all types of conventional oil and gas investments and must not tolerate the destruction of our conventional oil and gas industry as an unintended victim of the ill-informed anti-oil sands movement.
Canada needs its oil and gas industry, and for this industry to be healthy, as we embark on a resilient economic recovery from the COVID pandemic. We can balance both economic recovery and achievement of our environmental goals. Canada’s oil and gas drillers are exceptionally well positioned to assist, through quality jobs, technical excellence and environmental stewardship. Our industry is a good news story.
Thank you for your time today. I look forward to your questions.