Getting Our Products to Market: Oil Sands Community Alliance

Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA) has partnered with Your McMurray Magazine in this Below the Surface edition to help explore the complex issue that is market access. Perry Berkenpas, Executive Director, recently chatted with our editorial team about the challenges and the opportunities.

YMM: Tell us about OSCA and the role it plays in the oil sands industry.

OSCA: Our mission is to build shared value and healthy communities to enable the sustainable development of Canada’s oil sands and the region where we operate.

We bring people together, we collaborate and build relationships to find innovative solutions and improve economic benefits for oil sands and the social wellbeing of the communities.


YMM: What are the key challenges Canada’s oil sands face when it comes to market access?

OSCA: Over the last few years, major pipeline projects have been cancelled, while other projects have seen significant delays. We have also seen price differentials reach record highs, resulting in the Government implementing a production curtailment program.

As a result, producers continue to face the lack of takeaway capacity for crude oil. This limits Canada’s ability to serve Canadian and U.S. markets, and prevents access to international markets.

The Canadian energy industry is a player on the global marketplace. The oil sands is in the top 4 reserves in the world. But when you look a little deeper at commercial reserves, oil sands is in 7thplace in terms of how many of those reserves are actually economical.

This is why competitiveness continues to be a key focus for OSCA, and for industry.

We compete with jurisdictions like the U.S., the Middle East as they can increase production in months compared to oil sands. As soon as oil hits a higher price, producers in these jurisdictions can start up wells very quickly – more supply which drives down the price. But our competitors aren’t only oil producing countries across the globe but also other forms of energy – whether that’s wind, solar, nuclear or hydro.


YMM: What is the opportunity for Canada and Alberta, if we address market access issues?

OSCA: Canada has fallen behind other nations in our pursuit to attract capital and being competitive. A contributing reason is the lack of market access. With the COVID-19 crisis, Canada and this region will be competing with every other jurisdiction in the world for even more limited investment dollars.

With improved market access, Canada can help meet the global demand for oil and gas. Supplying affordable, reliable and cleaner energy globally is the goal of Canada’s oil sands industry. And Advancing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction is critical to realizing the vision for Canada to be a global supplier of choice with lower-carbon energy. 


YMM: From OSCA’s perspective, what are some key things that we should be watching for in 2022?

OSCA: A continued focus on optimization of operations, sustainability, environmental excellence and development of workable solutions to the climate change challenge, while also helping to supply the world’s energy needs.

Navigating change for the oil and gas industry is not something new. As the oil sands adjust to changes in the global marketplace as a result of the pandemic, this is an important time to understand the impacts of policies that protect competitiveness, and support for innovation and technology in strategic planning for the future.


YMM: Is there anything additional you’d like our readers to understand about oil sands competing in the global marketplace?

OSCA: We’re in a time of change, where our resources are stretched but we need to be creative and figure out how to do and achieve more with less. We can use something we do so well in Wood Buffalo – collaborate and work together to figure out how to be more competitive, this is key for our industry and region’s sustainability and long-term viability.

YMM Team
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Your McMurray Team is a collaboration of authors and contributors from in and around Fort McMurray.

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