Written by Vivek Warrier and Luke Morrison
The Canadian Energy Law Foundation (CELF) held its Annual Jasper Research Seminar in mid-June, the 56th year this world class event has been held in Alberta. Energy practitioners presented on critical legal issues in the energy industry, coming at a time of both tremendous uncertainty and incredible opportunities in the sector.
Key takeaways from the 2017 Seminar included:
- Climate change continues to be a significant driver of policy. Industry faces pressure to adapt to evolving provincial and federal regulatory frameworks in relation to emissions. Power and resource producers are evaluating existing operations and potential approaches as climate change measures such as caps, carbon levies, and emissions credit regimes are being implemented at both the federal and provincial levels.
- Insolvency law trumps contractual law. In many circumstances, bankruptcy and insolvency laws overrule or otherwise diminish contractual rights, often to the surprise of corporate counsel. Since the collapse in the price of oil that started in 2014, many common assumptions of industry participants regarding standard provisions have been challenged. The intersection between insolvency law and commercial law has grown closer and as a result commercial lawyers are being called upon to advise on the impact of insolvency regimes when drafting agreements.
- The Alberta Energy Regulator has gone global. The AER is a founding member of the just-launched International Centre of Regulatory Excellence—ICORE. ICORE will create a global platform for best-in-class regulatory training, collaboration, and innovation for regulators around the world. It's hoped the high level of confidence the AER has earned around the world will promote resource development and investor confidence in Alberta.
- Alberta is well-placed to get it right on renewable energy projects. The costs of renewable energy technology are lower and continue to drop. The price of generating energy from utility-scale solar photovoltaic technology, for instance, went down 11 percent from 2015-16. And Alberta can learn from the high-profile mistakes made by governments in Ontario and Germany on how not to roll out renewables.
The CELF Annual Jasper Research Seminar represents the core of the Foundation’s mandate to enhance and promote the understanding of legal issues important to the energy industry. This year's event once again lived up its mission with another sold-out Seminar that looked at some of the most vital issues facing the sector today.
Bennett Jones has supported the CELF Jasper Conference since its inception. Lawyers involved in this year's event included:
- Vivek Warrier—Board Member, CELF
- Luke Morrison and Ashley White—Members of the 2017 Jasper Research Seminar Committee
- Pat Maguire, David Spencer and Ken Lenz—Presenters on the 2017 paper topic, "Great expectations: Plans of arrangement, insolvency and cherished contracts"
- Megan Bertram, Brad Eidsness, Franco De Luca—Conference attendees