Risk and Resources
March 2014 - Editorial
The conversation around the relative merits of further development in Alberta’s oil sands gets more bitter with every passing day. The issue of whether to build a pipeline to the US turned into a hot potato in the last US presidential election and will likely force Canadian politicians—such as NDP leader Thomas Mulcair—into uncomfortable positions when the writ drops in 2015. The involvement of celebrity activists in the debate has pushed rhetoric to the brink of the outrageous, with Canadian music icon Neil Young going so far as to compare Fort McMurray, Alta. to Hiroshima.
Young’s comments and sustained attacks on oil and gas producers bring worthy attention to problems of environmental remediation in the oil patch, but they also lend credence to a dangerously simplistic and ill-informed viewpoint about what is possible in the sector. The idea that development in the oil sands can suddenly be switched off, or even reversed, is nothing more than fantasy. For better or worse, oil sands production has become a critical part of the Canadian economy, supporting thousands of jobs and helping to satisfy an unquenchable worldwide thirst for oil and gas that would exist with or without our resources.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our utmost to ensure these resources are developed responsibly, and—the biggest concern of late—transported to markets as safely as possible. This, of course, is where the insurance industry has an important role to play.
As the arbiters of what is and is not an acceptable and well-managed risk, oil and gas specialists in the insurance industry are in a position to provide reassurance to the world that producers, transporters and processors are doing their job in the safest way possible with the utmost regard for human safety. It remains to be seen, however, who among them will actually seizethis opportunity.
This will be my final editorial for Canadian Insurance Top Broker. Over the last four years, I have received a wonderful education on the Canadian P&C insurance world from the hundreds of people that I have met. It has been stimulating, and it was ultimately a successful seduction, as I am leaving to take on a position within the sector. So this is not goodbye from me to all of you but, rather, until we meet again under different circumstances.
Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the March 2014 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine