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Alberta’s clean-tech sector could be one of the province’s few growth businesses in 2016

Titanium Corporation is one clean-tech company which proposes to build facilities at oilsands mining operations that process a mine’s wastewater and remove the solvents and chemicals from that water. In doing so, Titanium prevents methanogenesis, a process which causes methane emissions in tailings ponds.

CALGARY – While many companies that service the oil and gas industry are struggling with record-low demand for their expertise, Scott Nelson and his team have become steadily busier in recent weeks.

Oilfield services companies face a 2016 where there’s little left to cut

Chris Wood/Calgary Herald, file
As prices started receding in November 2014, oil service companies were the first to feel the chill, rolling back salaries and reducing headcount as they responded to producers’ demands to slash costs.

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Nelson, president and CEO of clean-technology firm Titanium Corp., says interest in his company’s services has spiked since the Paris agreement on climate change and Alberta’s new carbon tax legislation.

“If you’ve been making a long list of things you may or may not do (to reduce emissions), you’d better look at them really hard right now because it’s going to cost you money if you don’t,” Nelson said.

Nelson, and a number of his clean-tech peers have been fielding an increasing number of calls from oil and gas executives since Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced in late November new economy-wide taxes on carbon emissions, total emissions caps for oilsands operations and a requirement that energy companies reduce their methane emissions by 45 per cent.

Shortly after the announcement, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers president and CEO Tim McMillan said the requirement to cut methane emissions on its own would add “hundreds of millions of dollars” in additional costs for the industry.

To meet the new requirements, energy companies are turning to the clean technology sector, poised to be one of the few growth businesses in Alberta in 2016.

“I’ve seen a significant paradigm shift over the last couple of months working in the oil and gas sector and speaking to leaders who, five years ago, saw this as a compliance exercise,” Ernst and Young energy market leader for climate change Meghan Harris-Ngae said.

Now, she said, oil and gas companies in Alberta see clean-tech investments as a way to save rather than spend money, which “creates an opportunity for the clean-tech sector” and should also lead to an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the province.

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