The Business Of Politics

Date PublishedNovember 26, 2015
CompanyTIHEM Consulting
Article AuthorT.J. Ross
Article TypeNovember 2015 Issue
CategoryArticles, Oil & Gas
Tags, , ,
PULSE Interactive

The Business Of Politics

Can I suggest we stop being afraid of what we cannot control? I would like to get off the media driven fear bus. I don’t actually think it is good for business to express personal beliefs on political issues in this format. Business people need to look at the facts, analyze, and use our hard earned judgement to read between the lines. Trying to use ideology as a predictor in business is not productive. Politicians are movable objects regardless of what their media represented persona will have you believe.

royalty-review-process-the-business-of-politicsThis article is incredibly challenging to write, because everything sounds like a politician’s speech, a pundit preaching, or a personal opinion given a stage. Uncertainty was a major issue when the NDP came to power in Alberta. There is no question change on that scale is a lot to take in. I was very concerned they would swoop in and make massive changes based on my preconceived idea of the NDP ideology. In my opinion, they have refrained and shown restraint. I have concerns, but I would have more concerns if they had charted an aggressive path in their first month. The NDP have taken control slowly and methodically. I can’t see anything that tells me they are making wild course corrections, and they have engaged non-partisan expertise from outside the government to help them make decisions.

When it comes to the royalty review, I would have recommended three more members on the panel. I am not a fan of the mandate letter given to the royalty review panel. The words on the page are over assumptive, and the word “diversification” is over used and vague.


The media representations of the objections expressed by the industry revolve around concern about investment migration. “People” are afraid uncertainty will stop or impede investment. Investors look at facts, analyze, and use their hard earned judgement to make decisions. The royalty review will be a factor, but Alberta companies should be far more concerned about the value proposition of our market and the lack of product/market diversity in Alberta companies. I am not an energy market expert, but the U.S. shale plays have the attention of the investment community. Our product is not as attractive to investors when compared to competing jurisdictions. Our competition produces the same product for less. Political factors have influence, but business is business, and investors look at value.

What is our value relative to our competitors? We should be focused on diversity in our product offering or market expansion. We should be focused on things we can control. Investors expect governments to change, and they expect government change to have an impact. What investors will not look past is the basic economics at play when it comes to getting product to market.

The royalty review process needs to be open and transparent,
but more importantly, I believe investors want it to go slowly.

The royalty review process needs to be open and transparent, but more importantly, I believe investors want it to go slowly. The Premier has already stated the end result of the review will not affect the industry’s ability to recover. I would recommend we take her at her word and focus on the real problems at hand. I strongly believe investors (and Albertans) would be/should be opposed to a rush towards a decision. It is not in anyone’s best interest to make a decision without a full review and every detail taken into account.

In case you were wondering, I did not support the current government, but I refuse to be afraid of it. It is my personal opinion this government is willing to work with our industry in a real way. I have seen more evidence of the government listening and responding to concerns in the past few months than I have seen in the last few years. The former government had grown complacent in many ways. We all need to see this as an opportunity, and we need to step up and find ways to be engaged, be proactive, and help the government find new ways to solve old problems.


With the federal election rally over, I can tell you I am sick of politics, journalism, and reactionary executives. In the past few months, it has been all consuming. I look forward to getting back to business as usual. Yes, I do think that is possible, and I am optimistic by choice. I am also just a regular guy with a regular company.

Pipelines are needed, royalties should be realistic, and politicians recognize that. My suggestion is not to fight against the game politicians need to play to win votes or public opinion. Politicians are accessible, and they are willing to work with both our industry and the public at large. If our industry continues to unite, it will lead to the desired result, but we need to address a few things. Find out what problems you as our “industry” can help the politicians solve. Go to them with an agenda that will help them to solve these problems which will help them achieve their goals. The industry must accept we are going to lose many battles in the media. Don’t let that deter you.

Stop waging a battle of public opinion. Stop pointing out in the media what you think is wrong. Be collaborative and use language that engages both the public service and politicians. Offer to work together and be vocal about what a great relationship our industry has with government.royalty-review-process-the-business-of-politics

Isn’t there a saying about flies and honey?

TJ Ross







Originally published in the 

November 2015 issue of Oilfield PULSE