The executive director of the Ontario Petroleum Institute says oil producers finally have the attention of the Ontario government.
Hugh Moran was in Petrolia speaking to about 40 local oil producers Thursday. He told producers for the first few years on the job, provincial officials in the Ministry of Energy didn’t know about Ontario’s rich history in oil and gas production nor the state of the industry now.
While most in Lambton County understand how important the oil industry has been to the region and the province, Moran says it was only 2012 that he and several members of OPI’s board were able to meet with the then Minister of Energy Chris Bentley. Bentley was eager to learn more about the industry and set up a meeting with top ministry bureaucrats, some of whom were unaware oil was being produced in Ontario.
In other instances, the conversation about oil production would be limited to the hot-button issue of fracturing.
But the OPI kept working on its profile, says Moran, making a submission during Ontario budget consultation – one of two presentations which would have increased tax revenue.
After years of lobbying, Moran says they are finally seeing the fruit of their labour. The latest provincial energy plan released in early December talks about oil production. “In the new plan there is a section on oil and gas…The government now recognizes our industry, now we have to be engaged with them,” he says.
“Our industry provides one percent of the oil and there is an opportunity to go out and find more,” he says. “It would be helpful for the government to promote it.”