The Mission – Listen, Research, Innovate
Telegraph - Journal
(Also appeared in Daily Gleaner and Times Transcript )
April 2, 2014
The Mission: Listen, Research, Innovate
Colleen Mitchell is preparing for a busy year.
The new president of the Atlantica Centre for Energy says the group is putting particular focus on New Brunswick in 2014 as the government remains focused on resource development.
“It’s a very, very interesting time in the energy industry in Atlantic Canada,” Mitchell says.
“There are a number of initiatives that really have tremendous potential for positively impacting the province and the people of New Brunswick.”
That includes the proposed 4,500-kilometre Energy East pipeline to connect up to 1.1 million barrels per day of western crude to refineries and export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick and the ongoing work to explore natural gas deposits in this province.
Mitchell becomes the third president of the industry association dedicated to the sustainable growth and economic development of the regional energy sector.
She was hired this winter to replace John Herron, who left the centre when he was appointed as a full-time member of the Energy and Utilities Board late last year.
Stephen MacMackin, chairman of the Atlantica Centre for Energy, said Mitchell is ideal for the job.
“Colleen has a very good understanding of our energy sector and excellent knowledge about the region’s energy markets,” he said.
He noted she also has a wealth of experience that includes time working in the energy sector.
Mitchell worked for Irving Oil for more than a decade, learning about the oil industry,
and went on to become the vice president of marketing and communications at the Port of Saint John and more recently she worked for a large engineering firm that worked on a number of large projects, including the Coleson Cove refurbishment.
“I’m pulling from all those experiences in this new role,” Mitchell said.
“This region is very rich in resources. New Brunswick in particular has a diversity of renewable and non-renewable supply.
“It will be exciting to see how we continue to create renewable resources and energy – for example with the potential refurbishment or disbandment of the Mactaquac Dam, as well as looking at new energy sources, such as development of natural gas in New Brunswick.”
The potential economic effect for New Brunswick could be major, she said.
“It has the potential to impact every single New Brunswicker from the standpoint that if a new source of government revenue can be identified through sustainable and responsible development, then that benefits everybody.”
The pipeline project alone is expected to add $2.8 billion to New Brunswick’s GDP during construction while the revenue to the province is expected to be $266 million during development and construction and $428 million during operations.
“That will pay for a lot of healthcare and a lot of education from kindergarten to university,” Mitchell says.
Added to that, she said, are spinoffs from things like an export terminal and the impact of having lower-priced Canadian crude.
But she knows there has also been both opposition to resource development and concern about the level of vigilance government and industry can offer.
“As a collective, we have to listen to valid concerns, research successful approaches in other regions and come up with innovative solutions for this region,” she said.
“It’s a matter of continuing to make sure there is a framework for responsible development going forward,” she said, looking at Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta.
Saskatchewan may be the most pertinent example for New Brunswick given its
promotion into the ranks of have provinces based on exploitation of its potash and oil and gas resources, Mitchell said.
Having a long-term, stable supply of competitively priced energy for the Atlantic region won’t just see government collecting more revenue, Mitchell said. It will also benefit large and small businesses, utilities and residential energy users.
“The long-term benefits also mean competitive rates for industry and residences. Anyone who had to heat their home this winter will know- whether you had to heat with fuel oil, or by electricity or by natural gas - it was a very cold winter and there were bottlenecks in New England with natural gas supply and prices really spiked.
“It really is very exciting. Energy used to be a tool for mining and manufacturing and industry, and now it’s an industry in itself.”