Better business, brighter future: A look at Canada’s oil and gas industry

Explore challenges and opportunities facing the energy sector in our Q&A with Peter Tertzakian, ARC Financial. He also shares a sneak peek at his keynote for the 2016 Conference for the Oil and Gas Industry.

Peter Tertzakian is the chief energy economist at ARC Financial. He will be speaking at the Conference for the Oil and Gas Industry, delivering a keynote on the current state of oil and gas in Canada and what the future holds.

The University of Alberta once described you as a “geophysicist turned energy futurist.” How does your science-meets-industry background influence the work you do today with ARC Financial?

My core educational background in science, mathematics and computer programming are the foundation of my career. Understanding physics is essential to understanding the inner workings and efficiency of our energy systems – from how much heat is in a lump of coal, to how a nuclear reactor works, to the potential of a lithium battery.

A strong grasp on base knowledge like that allows me to make more objective financial and social assessments and better investment decisions at ARC Financial.

Last year you were appointed to the Alberta Royalty Review Advisory Panel – and its recommendations on a provincial non-renewable resource royalty framework were approved by the government. What’s next for royalties?

The next step is implementation of the Alberta Royalty Review recommendations on January 1, 2017. For the oil sands side of the industry, the royalty recommendations largely address a lack of transparency in reported numbers.

On the non-oil sands side, in the conventional and unconventional oil and gas business, there will be a completely new and modernized royalty framework that is academically rigorous and practical to enact. This new framework also reflects the need to dynamically change as new technologies alter royalty-related parameters – like unit costs – over time.

Canada is the fifth largest producer of oil in the world, but not yet energy self-sufficient. How does our global investment strategy contribute to issues of sustainability and long-term resource planning?

That’s part of the problem: we don’t really have a global investment strategy. One reason is that the oil and gas industry, the government and the people of Canada struggle to identify with the notion of “we.”

It’s unlikely there will be a cohesive investment strategy in energy infrastructure – from pipelines to wind farms – until Canadians realize that we are all stakeholders in our world-class energy industry.

What can business leaders in oil and gas do to improve energy productivity and stability today, while ensuring a bright outlook for future generations tomorrow?

There are already many innovative, globally minded companies in the Canadian oil and gas industry that have adjusted to the reality of lower commodity prices. The fall in the price of natural gas is five years old; oil is two.

Any company that isn’t adapting processes, lowering costs, securing customers and high-grading to quality assets is in trouble. Those that have done so already are ensuring a bright outlook for themselves and the new face of the industry over the next several decades.

What can CPAs and other financial professionals in the industry look forward to learning about at your keynote this November?

Often, we are bombarded with headlines about change – whether it’s in the oil and gas realm or with competitive systems like renewables and electric vehicles. But stepping back and creating some context before discussing the details is critical to understand what’s going on and where our energy future is headed.

In my address, I’m going to describe the energy landscape as it is today, discuss what is and isn’t working and offer a pragmatic glimpse at the next 10 to 20 years, including what’s important for business leaders and financial advisors to energy companies.


Register now for the 2016 Conference for the Oil and Gas Industry from November 23-24 in Calgary to hear Peter speak live about the Canadian energy sector and what you and your organization need to know.

Want to dive in before then? CPA Canada is also hosting a free webinar on November 10, 2016 about how IFRS 16 affects oil and gas, including what businesses can do to prepare for the implementation of this new leasing standard.