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Jan 30, 2020

'What's our strategy?': Suncor CEO calls for Canada-wide energy focus, First Nations investment

Suncor CEO: We need to work together to bridge Canada's East-West divide


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Suncor Energy Inc. chief executive officer Mark Little said he’s pushing for a nationwide effort to support Western Canada’s oil producers to bolster the industry’s position within the global energy industry.

“We’re one country and we need to try and figure out: ‘Okay. What’s our strategy for this?’ And then: ‘How do we work together, collectively, to be able to move forward?’” Little told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Thursday.

“One of the things that’s most challenging about the current situation is the fact that Central Canada, Ontario, Quebec, are doing quite well. The one area that’s really struggling is energy and Western Canada. So this isn’t something that the majority of Canada’s population is exposed to but it does have ripple effects throughout the economy.”

He added that once Canada’s own oil-and-gas sector gets its house in order, it can then focus on how to keep pace in the global energy industry.

“We’re never going to move forward unless we try to figure out: ‘How do we work across these jurisdictions?’ and figure out what Canada’s role (is) in the energy world,” Little said.

“And then how do we get a competitive advantage and be able to move forward and provide our goods and services and products and stuff to the world while dealing with whatever the issues are? Clearly, in our industry it’s climate.”

Little said Suncor is taking steps to lower its greenhouse gas emissions, pointing toward the company’s $1.4 billion investment in 2019 in co-generation units at its base plant in Northern Alberta. The company said at the time that the units would reduce the facility’s emissions by 25 per cent.

He also pointed to the company’s combined $500 million deals in 2016 with the Fort MacKay and Mikisew First Nations as one example of how the energy industry can help benefit Canada’s indigenous communities.

“This will change the lives of these two First Nations for generations to come,” Little said.

Little noted the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion – currently owned by the federal government – presents a huge opportunity for First Nations investment.

“If you looked at the Trans Mountain pipeline, I think we could probably get 300 First Nations in the country, half of the First Nations in the country, to want an equity interest and join in,” he said.

“But we need more of this. One project, one pipeline, one investment is not going to change economic reconciliation for the indigenous people of the country ... We need this across all industries and we continue to look at opportunities around: How can we continue to engage more fully in the indigenous community?”