Energy, environment and economy increasingly interconnected says NEB report



    CALGARY, May 21 /CNW/ - The convergence of energy efficiency and
conservation with renewable energy policies continued to be a strong trend in
2008 says the National Energy Board (NEB) in its Canadian Energy Overview 2008
report.
    While the economy garnered significant headlines in the latter half of
2008, the environment and the increasing momentum on climate change
initiatives were key influences on the Canadian energy sector throughout the
entire year.
    Several provincial and federal policies aimed at energy demand were
proposed early in 2008 including the expansion of clean energy and renewable
energy strategies and new standards for consumer goods. A proposed design of a
comprehensive regional cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases was
introduced by the Western Climate Initiative. By the end of 2008, all
provinces had some legislation for climate change initiatives. Many of these
new government programs and policies should impact consumer energy demand
trends in the next few years as Canadians factor environmental costs into
purchasing decisions.
    "2008 was an extreme year and uncertainty around the global economic
picture continues today," said Gaétan Caron, NEB Chair. "However, what remains
certain is Canada has numerous opportunities with respect to technology,
sustainability and environmental protection."
    "Going green" was also a common theme in electricity generation.
Investment in wind power has increased the energy produced from this source by
265 per cent from 2004. In 2008, Canada produced enough electricity through
wind to power 680,000 homes or about one per cent of Canada's total
electricity demand. Canada's capacity rose by 34 per cent from 2007 levels
making Canada 16th in the world for wind generating capacity. Ontario led all
other provinces with 782 Megawatt (MW) of installed capacity followed by
Quebec (532 MW) and Alberta (524 MW). Many wind projects that are currently
under construction will soon be fully commissioned meaning 2009 could exceed
2008 installation levels.
    The price of oil and natural gas reached new highs only to fall
dramatically in the latter half of 2008. Due to the low price and volatile
financial markets, several of the oil sands projects that earlier in the year
had been promising, were either postponed or cancelled. Until the price of
crude oil rebounds to levels that offer economic incentives, increases in
production volumes and refining capacity may remain in doubt.
    Natural gas prices fell in the second half of 2008 due to the emergence
of unconventional resource plays in the United States. This created a supply
glut which added to the economic slowdown and reduced demand. While natural
gas production and exports declined, net export revenues were up substantially
due to higher prices.
    Approximately 16,300 oil and gas wells were drilled in 2008 which is
about 10 per cent below 2007 numbers. Alberta took the brunt of the decline
with only 11,569 wells drilled compared to the 14,001 in 2007. Despite the
drop in well numbers, activity in some areas of the country increased.
Saskatchewan saw an increase of 22 per cent from 3,202 to 3,898 wells. Records
for provincial revenue generated by the sale of petroleum rights were set in
British Columbia with the province earning $2.7 billion and Saskatchewan with
$1.1 billion.
    Celebrating 50 years of regulatory leadership, the NEB is an independent
federal agency that regulates several parts of Canada's energy industry. Its
purpose is to promote safety and security, environmental protection, and
efficient energy infrastructure and markets in the Canadian public interest,
within the mandate set by Parliament in the regulation of pipelines, energy
development and trade. As part of its mandate, the NEB monitors the supply of
all energy commodities in Canada and repost its findings. The NEB Internet
site is regularly updated with new energy information for the Canadian public.

    This news release and the Energy Market Assessment are available on the
Board's Internet site at www.neb-one.gc.ca under What's New!





For further information:

For further information: Kristen Higgins, kristen.higgins@neb-one.gc.ca,
Communications Officer, Telephone: (403) 299-3122, TTY (teletype):
1-800-632-1663; For a copy of Canadian Energy Overview 2008: National Energy
Board, Library, Telephone: (403) 299-3561, Email: library@neb-one.gc.ca


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