July 13, 2012
On Tuesday, July 10th, the Calgary Herald published a column by Matthew Fisher entitled “Norwegians pay a price for saving oil revenues,” found here. Below is my response.
I believe Herald readers can be forgiven if they were confused after reading Matthew Fisher's Tuesday column, for the title promised one thing and the column delivered something quite different.
The headline reads that Norway's determination to sock away vast sums of its oil wealth is less than ideal -- that such a policy comes with a “price.”
The column, however, is largely a description of how the country boasts both a $600 billion savings account and the world's highest living standards.
It would appear that, in Fisher’s view, the hitch with such a remarkable achievement is that Norwegians choose to collectively fund it through taxes. But it's hard to see such a decision as anything other than wise financial planning, since in addition to preventing their economy from overheating and protecting themselves from “dutch disease,” Norwegians have established an inheritance capable of ensuring that the benefits of their finite, fossil-fuelled fortune continues for generations to come. Robust savings, high living standards, and an assured future? Surely this is a “price” most Albertans would be happy to “pay.”
Perhaps Fisher should have mentioned that Norway has a state-owned oil company that returns all oil profits to its citizens, whereas the royalties for Alberta's privately-developed oil, gas, and bitumen resources last year delivered only 9% of the revenue back to Albertans. As this province rapidly burns through its natural wealth, Albertans can only look on with envy as Norwegians enjoy the benefits of wise financial planning.
May 26, 2011
Alberta was blessed with trillions of dollars worth of non-renewable natural resources, but there are a variety of myths clouding the debate over how well the province’s Progressive Conservative governments have been managing that wealth on behalf of citizens.
May 23, 2011
Alberta's Energy Minister Ron Liepert told the US media that Barack Obama is out of touch with Americans for putting environmental concerns before jobs with regards to the Keystone pipeline. Liepert is showing his true colours. He is the one out of touch.
March 14, 2011
What the Progressive Conservative government is saying is that they are dedicated to getting the worst possible return for Albertans on their non-renewable resources.
December 14, 2010
According to Alberta's Environment Minister Rob Renner, "The fact remains, we have to face the reality that there will not be a dramatic reduction in dependence on hydrocarbons until alternative kinds of fuel and energy are developed." Actually, he has it backwards.
November 28, 2010
Already “under attack for allegedly being rude and dismissive when he was health minister,” current Energy Minister Ron Liepert conceded he hadn’t read the Parkland Institute’s new report on vast oilpatch profits but that didn’t stop him from dismissing it...
November 26, 2010
Parkland released its latest report yesterday morning, detailing the huge scale of oilpatch profits – Misplaced Generosity: Extraordinary profits in Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Many of the responses from government and industry were predictable – that’s why they were addressed in the report. Let’s run through the standard excuses offered for the string of royalty cuts Albertans have watched their government hand out over the last two years.