Part 1: How to revive the Atlantic offshore oil and gas industry

 

At the Canadian Institute’s Atlantic Gas Symposium held on 20 July 2004 in Halifax, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley was invited to give a major address on opportunities in the offshore oil and gas industry on the east coast. He took advantage of the opportunity to offer a major diagnosis of the ills that dog the industry, including a poor regulatory regime, a hostile political climate, unreasonable expectations of the industry and a growing sense that exploration, particularly off Nova Scotia, is too risky and expensive.

 

He drew attention to the crucial factors that will determine everything about the industry’s future: whether more resource is being discovered and whether the region is cost-competitive with competing basins if resource is discovered. Attempts to extort short-term industrial benefits out of the industry at this early stage in its development will almost surely kill the goose that could yet lay the region’s golden eggs. Yet creating a friendlier and more efficient regulatory and political climate would go some way to increasing the chances that the industry’s potential will be realised in a long-term and sustainable way.

 

To read “What Real Offshore Benefits Would Look Like and How to Get Them”, click here: www.aims.ca/commentary/Cdn_Institute_Gas_Conference_Hfx.pdf.

 

 

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Part 2: Why is NS Legislative Committee considering upping gasoline taxes?

 

The Select Committee of the Nova Scotia Legislature on Petroleum Product Pricing was struck to examine the causes behind recent price spikes for gasoline. The Committee, however, has lost track of that mandate and is leaning toward recommending regulatory measures that will increase the cost of gasoline to Nova Scotia consumers by anywhere between $36 million and $60 million.

These are the conclusions reached by AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley in an oral brief submitted to the Committee on Tuesday, 20 July, 2004 in Truro. 

 

In the brief, Crowley argues that the Committee’s members have allowed complaints by gasoline retailers about their low margins on gasoline to cloud their judgment about whose interests the Committee was created to protect. He also argues that the Committee has been far too willing to lend credence to claims of anti-competitive behaviour by the major oil and gas companies as the major explanation of the behaviour of gasoline prices.

 

Crowley recommended that the Committee look instead to the tax load on gasoline as the chief cause of high prices. The evidence is clear that, when taxes are excluded, Canada has the lowest retail gasoline prices in the world, lower even than the United States.

 

To see an augmented written version of the brief, entitled Keeping our eye on the ball: Looking out for consumers, not producers, in the Nova Scotia gasoline industry go to: www.aims.ca/Media/2004/prjul2304.htm

 

 

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Part 3: Membertou Inc.: Can business and aboriginal self-government co-exist?

 

Membertou First Nation, one of the few urban aboriginal reserves in Atlantic Canada, defies stereotypes about poor, mismanaged reserves. Its potholes are filled and new buildings are under construction. There are plans for a community arena and multipurpose centre, including a new health clinic and seniors’ activity area, and a new housing subdivision. In fact it is the first aboriginal government in Canada, and possibly in the world, to achieve and maintain ISO-9000 certification.

 

Membertou’s approach to socio-economic development, sometimes referred to as a “First Nations progression model”, is based on using a business approach to government, management, and economic development to achieve social objectives.

 

However, in spite of its success, Membertou faces serious challenges in the future. In a paper just release by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, Jacquelyn Thayer Scott examines the road ahead for the Membertou First Nation. In “Doing Business with the Devil: Land, sovereignty, and corporate partnerships in Membertou Inc., Ms. Scott identifies succession, attitudinal change, cultural erosion and the issues of firewalls and property rights, with their implications for access to capital, as major hurdles facing the leadership. 

 

To read “Doing Business with the Devil” go to: www.aims.ca/Media/prjul2704.htm

 

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Part 4: Science, emotion and the public interest: AIMS paper examines Aquaculture in the news

 

The rapid growth of aquaculture has brought with it increased focus on the industry, by both the media and environmental activists. Widely distributed media stories on the aquaculture industry have alleged loss of native fish species, invasion of non-native species, the use of “harmful” colorants, and dangerous levels of PCBs in farmed salmon.

 

In a new paper being released by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, author Jeff Chatterton examines this media coverage to determine the extent to which these reports reflect reality or are the product of journalists relying too uncritically on advocacy groups for information about aquaculture and its impact.

 

Framing the Fish Farmers: The Impact of Activists on Media and Public Opinion about the Aquaculture Industry is the third paper in AIMS’ How to Farm the Seas series and can be accessed at www.aims.ca/Media/2004/prjun1504.htm

 

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Part 5: AIMS author Campbell Watkins: Why we’re not running out of oil

 

There have been many studies intent on spreading the oil patch’s very own version of SARS (Severe Anaemic Reserves Syndrome) – a belief that has proved remarkably resistant to evidence. With gas prices soaring it would seem incontrovertible that SARS is a reality and that cars, and other users of petroleum based products, are, like the dinosaurs, doomed to extinction.

 

But, as an economic commodity, oil is more plentiful now than it was in 1973. In short, three decades beyond 1973, oil reserves have doubled even though production has continually increased; and there has been less, not more, reliance on OPEC. Indicators of resource scarcity do not provide evidence that oil is becoming scarcer. Instead, new plays, more intense development of existing plays, allied with cost saving and innovative technology have offset depletion of existing reservoirs.

 

In this talk to an AIMS breakfast May 27, 2004, Dr. G. Campbell Watkins says the world has unfolded almost in precisely the opposite way from the doomsday predictions of the 1970s and early 80s. He calls it “confounding Cassandra”. Read the full transcript of his talk at www.aims.ca/Prevevents/watkins.htm

 

 

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Part 6: AIMS Looks Ahead to 10th Anniversary!

 

Be sure to set aside Tuesday, November 9, 2004 for AIMS’ 10th Anniversary banquet!

 

Our featured speakers will be former United States Senator and former Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, and former Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney.

 

Canada’s relationship with the United States has at times appeared strained since the events of September 11, 2001. Canada’s position on the war in Iraq, the softwood lumber dispute, the BSE crisis in the cattle industry, security lapses and other issues have all served to highlight the importance of our relationship with our closest ally and greatest trading partner.

 

What is in the future for this relationship? Join us for a rare glimpse into Canada’s relationship with the United States and help AIMS celebrate ten years of contribution to the Canadian public policy debate.

 

Tickets are CDN $250 per seat, $2,500 for tables of ten.

 

For further information,

contact Bonnie Williams

902 446 3332

aims@aims.ca

 

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Part 7: Policy Directors sought by AIMS

 

AIMS is seeking two Policy Directors, one specializing in Education and Health and another in Social and Economic Affairs, to join its executive team.

 

The Policy Directors must have excellent policy minds, a gift for written and oral communications and a drive to improve the quality of public policy in Atlantic Canada and the country generally. As members of the executive team, the successful candidates will play a leading role in defining and carrying out the research, publication, advancement, education, conference, media and other activities of one of the country’s most successful public policy think tanks. To find out more, visit the AIMS website at www.aims.ca/Main/jobs.htm