CEOs discuss the results to date of the different conversation
CALGARY, Jan. 8 /CNW/ - Canada's oil sands producers have heard directly
from Canadians over the past six months through an initiative called Canada's
Oil Sands: a different conversation. Input from www.canadasoilsands.ca has
been validated by targeted in-depth opinion polling to give the oil sands
industry a candid perspective of the views of Canadians on the development of
the oil sands.
Three key themes have emerged thus far from the discussion:
- Canadians believe that it is possible to develop the oil sands while
protecting the environment.
- Canadians do not believe that oil sands companies are doing enough
today to reduce environmental impacts.
- When considering oil sands environmental issues, Canadians are most
concerned about the impact of the projects on fresh water, and about
greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands.
"Canadians are telling us that we need to do better," said Bruce March,
CEO of Imperial Oil. "We have received a clear message: the economic and
energy security benefits of the oil sands cannot come at the expense of the
environment. We are encouraged to find Canadians believe, as we do, that
responsible development of the oil sands is possible."
Other themes have emerged from the conversation as well. Canadians
believe that technology is a large part of the solution to oil sands
environmental issues. Indeed, specific technological ideas have been debated
on the program website. Canadians also want to be confident that there is
strict regulatory oversight of these major projects. Finally, the conversation
shows broad recognition of the importance of the oil sands to the Canadian
economy and to Canadian energy security.
"We can address some areas of public concern by doing a better job of
clearly explaining our business," said Marcel Coutu, CEO of Canadian Oil Sands
Trust. "There are some wild misconceptions in the public about this industry.
But at the same time, we must recognize those issues, such as greenhouse gas
emissions, where the environmental footprint today is larger than conventional
crude oil production. We need to work to reduce that impact."
Thousands of Canadians have participated in this initiative. The website
has an open discussion forum, which has attracted participation from a wide
range of perspectives. As well, a series of "daily questions" received
thoughtful input. All of the results, including full results of the opinion
polling, are available on the website.
Having listened to the views of Canadians for the last six months, oil
sands producers are now talking about what they heard and encouraging further
discussion. They are beginning the conversation about what the industry does
and can do to address the concerns of Canadians, find solutions to outstanding
issues, and achieve the balance that Canadians believe is possible.
All observers, whether supporters or opponents, can agree that oil sands
development is a project of national importance and impact, that warrants a
national conversation. Canadians are encouraged to participate in this
conversation at www.canadasoilsands.ca.
Public input to this initiative has come through public input to the
website, through public outreach initiatives by individual companies, and
through opinion polling. The quantitative opinion polling results align with
the qualitative input from the other sources.
Public Opinion Polling
The opinion polling was conducted by academic researchers in June of 2008.
425 respondents in each of Edmonton and Toronto participated in a 60-question
telephone survey. Results are based on a confidence interval of 95 per cent
and sampling error of 4.8 per cent. CAPP intends to conduct this survey again
early in 2009, and to broaden the survey beyond Edmonton and Toronto. The full
survey results are available on www.canadasoilsands.ca. Some of the most
relevant findings are as follows:
- 42% of respondents have a positive view of the oil sands. 30% have a
negative view of the oil sands.
- 46% of respondents believe the oil sands companies have not done a
good job at balancing the environment and the economy. Only 22%
believe that the industry has been able to achieve this balance to
- 71% of respondents believe it is possible to achieve the economic
benefits of the oil sands while also protecting the environment. Only
11% disagree that this balance is possible.
- Concern about impacts on freshwater supply was cited as the single
most significant oil sands environmental issue by respondents (26%).
Impact on local wildlife and habitat was the second most cited issued
- 63% of respondents believe that Canada benefits from the development
of the oil sands. 19% disagree with this statement.
- 64% of Canadians believe that the oil sands are important to
providing a secure supply of Canada's future oil needs.
- Public trust in oil sands companies is weak. 50% of respondents do
not believe what oil and gas executives say in the media, compared
with only 13% who do. Similarly, 44% of respondents do not believe
information provided by oil and gas companies. Only 20% agree that
they do believe such information.
- With a few exceptions, there is little substantial divergence between
the Edmonton results and the Toronto results. Edmontonians are
generally more favourable towards the oil sands industry than
Torontonians. Particularly on questions around the environmental
responsibility of the industry, Toronto respondents have a more
negative view than Edmonton respondents.
- The website has attracted over 50,000 unique visits. While the large
majority of users of the site are Canadian, we have also had visits
from over 100 other countries.
- There have been over 250 comments posted in the public discussion
forum on the website, and an additional 150 comments in response to
- While the discussion forum is moderated, we have not had to remove
For further information:
For further information: on this initiative, please call: Travis Davies,
CAPP, P: (403) 267-1151, C: (403) 542-4115