Alberta v. Libya: No danger of regime change in ‘broke’ Alberta, now collecting plus or minus zero from petroleum extraction

Posted on February 10, 2015, 12:17 am
6 mins

PHOTOS: A Western pilot, Italian in this case, bombs Libya … regime change without end. Nothing like that’s needed here in Alberta, though. Below: Premier Peter Lougheed in his prime, collecting 40 per cent on Alberta’s petroleum revenues; Col. Muammar Gaddafi in his, getting even more; Premier Jim Prentice, getting plus or minus nothing.

Political stability in Alberta? We’ve got it!

That may be one unheralded benefit of electing Progressive Conservative governments decade after decade here in Alberta – there’s almost no chance Western air forces will bomb the crap out of us to engineer what is charmingly known in geopolitical circles nowadays as “regime change.”

LougheedWhy bother? Even without an expensive and time consuming bombing campaign and a bloody change in regime as happened four years ago in Libya – which under the regime of the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi used to capture 90 per cent of the revenue generated by the country’s oil – in the last 20 years Alberta has managed to get only about 10 per cent!

Libya: 90 per cent. Alberta: 10 per cent. Think about that. You’d have to pay more in bribes to the regime you put in place to replace such a government!

So never mind Norway, let’s compare Alberta to Libya. It makes for an interesting contrast, don’t you think? Before the Libyan dictator was overthrown by the West in 2011 (and apparently replaced by various factions with an inclination toward anti-Western jihad, but never mind that just now) Libya was pumping about 1.5 million barrels of oil a day.

The Libyan government collected about $27-billion US a year from that output, accounting for approximately 75 per cent of the country’s budget.

When the Gaddafi Regime was overthrown, though, Western Oil companies began to push for a new royalty regime that would grant them … wait for it … 30 per cent of the revenue.

Apparently they’d been perfectly willing to work the Libyan fields for 10 per cent, but argued that if they got 30 per cent they’d be much more fairly compensated for their efforts. This leaves only a paltry 70 per cent for the Libyans.

That seems to be where North Africa is headed now that the governments of the West – backed up by their laser guidance systems and jet bombers, including a few from the Royal Canadian Air Force – are in the Libyan driver’s seat, after a fashion, anyway.Gaddafi-R

So, even after regime change, while the Libyans produced less oil than Alberta, they managed to collect $40 billion in royalties in 2013, notwithstanding efforts by local militias to try to bypass the country’s government and sell oil directly, which may account for why the Libyan government’s estimates were off by $10 billion.

In many circles in Africa and the Middle East, this is change is perceived as highway robbery by Western imperialists, an absolute outrage. They figure the West has squeezed them till the pips squeaked, and they may be right!

Back here in Alberta, Canada, meanwhile, our government never received more than 40 per cent of the revenues captured from petroleum production.

That was during the rule of the Fidel-Castro-like Peter Lougheed, leader of the first Progressive Conservative government, whose position was that about 30 per cent was a fair return for the owners of the oil, gas and bitumen that was being extracted, that is to say, the people of Alberta.

JoePrentice-LLSubsequent Progressive Conservative premiers who followed him have chipped away at that return a bit at a time ever since – with a short-lived reversal of the pattern by Ed Stelmach, and we all know what happened to him – to the enormous benefit of Big Oil.

So here we are, after 20 years or so of barely managing to capture 10 per cent of the revenue produced by our resources in the Richest Place on Earth and we’re told by the same Progressive Conservative government that we’re broke.

Right now, if we believe Premier Jim Prentice, our current royalty returns on petroleum extraction equal plus or minus nothing! You heard that right: zip, zero, zilch, nada.

With 90 to 99 per cent of the money generated by our petroleum resources flowing directly into the pockets of Alberta’s oil industry, they’re in a position to tell us to do whatever they want, whenever they want, even if that entails shutting down the Opposition party and moving it to the other side of the Legislature, semi-officially establishing a one-party state.

And what’s next on their agenda for us now, you ask? Why, lower pensions, lower wages, fewer public services, less health care coverage, of course!

After all, as Premier Prentice just told us: “We’re all in this together. We got into this collectively as Albertans. We’re going to get out of it together.”

Under the circumstances, it’s hard to feel very reassured by those words.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

5 Comments to: Alberta v. Libya: No danger of regime change in ‘broke’ Alberta, now collecting plus or minus zero from petroleum extraction

  1. Keith

    February 10th, 2015

    And we don’t even get a bonus for being a secure, reliable supplier.

    The new regime in Libya has already disappeared most of Gaddafi’s $200 billion “National Fund”.

    Reply
    • b_nichol

      February 10th, 2015

      “And we don’t even get a bonus for being a secure, reliable supplier.”
      Sure we do: we get to call our oil “Ethical”.

      Reply
      • Sam Gunsch

        February 11th, 2015

        Ethical claims by AB politicians/RW pundits seems to have lost out to reality.

        excerpt: ‘”Climate change presents an urgent crisis for humanity,” he added.”
        http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/ubc-profs-vote-62-cent-favour-divest-fossil-fuels

        Even in Canada…Accelerating divestment from fossil fuels including AB’s supposed ‘ethical oil’.

        http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/ubc-profs-vote-62-cent-favour-divest-fossil-fuels

        “Students have spoken. Faculty have spoken. It’s time for UBC to act,” said forestry professor George Hoberg, who led the faculty campaign.

        “Climate change presents an urgent crisis for humanity,” he added.

        The campus’ $1.1-billion endowment contains the largest university holding of fossil fuel stocks in Canada, according to a national study by the Sustainability and Education Policy Network.

        The university joins four major Canadian universities where professors have voted to urge their university directors to divest: University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto and Mount Allison University.

        Reply
  2. Athabascan

    February 10th, 2015

    It is getting increasingly embarrassing for me to live in Alberta. I’m seriously considering moving away when I retire. I just don’t see the point of supporting such an openly corrupt government. They are making a mockery of democracy and aren’t even apologetic for it.

    The sad part is that I don’t see an end in sight. The oil industry has such an iron grip on our so-called government that a regime change is impossible to foresee in my lifetime – however long that is.

    No cookies left in the jar? Holy crap, the evidence is all around us. Look at the kid who weighs 300 pounds, crumbs all around him and barfing the stuff out while the rest of his siblings are starving. The kid’s name is the oil & gas industry, and the siblings are… well, you get the picture.

    It’s just that mom and dad love the fat little glutton more than us, so what are you going to do? Share? What’s that? There is no chapter in the neo-liberal econ text that covers that. It must be one of those hippy things.

    Reply
  3. Sam Gunsch

    February 10th, 2015

    re: ‘After all, as Premier Prentice just told us: “We’re all in this together. We got into this collectively as Albertans.’

    Prentice has it wrong: The petro-dominance of AB politics is primarily the responsibility the PCAA and the minority of eligible AB voters that have voted PC’s in since Ralph Klein.

    And that electoral dominance is only possible because of the First-Past-The-Post voting system.

    PC’s & WRP coalition have practiced vested-interest politics catering to corporate sectors. No real concern for serving the public good. Since Klein mostly an absence of actual democratic governance that puts the public good before private interests.

    The First-Past-The-Post electoral system discourages many of the rest of AB voters because they understand that FPTP results effectively disenfranchise many us because it produces legislatures that are not representative.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Vote_Canada

    Some form of proportional representation would have led to the PC ouster a couple decades ago in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when NDP and Liberals were winning sizeable numbers of seats because Calgary and Edmonton voters include a sizeable swing vote among progressives. Possibly NDP and Liberal coalitions based on dominating the urban centres, mostly. Although the NDP vote in some rural areas could also have increased.

    Under proportional representation of some form, Calgary and Edmonton would probably have elected Green MLA’s by now.
    e.g. 2012 byelection in Calgary… where Chris Turner got a big percentage going against the strong Liberal candidate Harvey Locke and CPC Joan Crockatt.

    Proportional representation would likely have delivered a minority to Redford PC’s and lots of NDP and Liberal urban seats and WRP would still have garnered a large opposition.

    Reply

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