The key to understanding the dilemma is to realize that Tar Sand, bitumen, is just a part of Alberta’s oil history. The province has also produced a vast amount of conventional crude oil. It’s actually produced and exported a good deal more conventional crude oil than Norway. That brings us to the starting point of the conversation.
Norway today sits on top of a $1-trillion Cdn pension fund established in 1990 to invest the returns of oil and gas. The capital has been invested in over 9,000 companies worldwide, including over 200 in Canada. It is now the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.
By contrast, Alberta’s Heritage Savings Fund, established in 1976 by premier Peter Lougheed, sits at only $17 billion Cdn and has been raided by governments and starved of contributions for years.
“For the last 10 years, when nothing went into the Alberta fund, and we put a lot of money aside, the profit went out of Canada,” says Rolf Wiborg, a petroleum engineer who recently retired from Norway’s public service.
Wiborg, who studied at the University of Alberta and worked for a Norwegian oil company before joining Norway’s Petroleum Directorate, says the key to success has been Norway’s ethos of sharing and a commitment to never waver from that goal.
“We don’t change our policies in Norway, with changes in the oil price – you can’t do that,” he says. “Lougheed’s government in Alberta knew that, they made policies and then they left them behind.”
On my quest to becoming an expert in Canadian comics (trust me, I’ve got a LONG way to go), I’d better start knocking some of the heavy hitters off the list. Originally from Calgary, Todd McFarlane, is known for a lot of successful ventures, though he …