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Craig Lothian responds to H2S concerns

(Editor's Note: this is the second in a series of several related stories on H 2 S in Southeast Saskatchewan. Additional stories will be posted at pipelinenews.
Craig Lothian
Craig Lothian

(Editor's Note: this is the second in a series of several related stories on H2S in Southeast Saskatchewan. Additional stories will be posted at in the coming days)

ReginaWith hydrogen sulphide (H2S) issues in Saskatchewan receiving national attention in early October, Pipeline News asked for the perspective of an oil company working in the Oxbow area, the region highlighted in the Toronto Star, National Observer and Global News stories. E. Craig Lothian, president and CEO of Regina-based Keystone Royalty Corp., and acting president, CEO and chair of Villanova 4 Oil Corp., sent us this response by email on Oct. 20. Lothian wrote:

The recent negative press (essentially a smear campaign) about H2S in SE Sask., has emboldened the critics in that area and in the province generally. As an industry we feel that we are under an existential threat from outside political forces (federal government; provincial governments in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and environmental activists both at the local, national and international level).

Fueling this is a well-financed (largely by U.S. activists) anti-oil campaign. Most recently, the Toronto Star joined the fray with an article entitled, “That rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecy.” The article which was co-authored by the left-leaning Star and the National Observer, with research assistance provided by a number of universities including our very own University of Regina (home to Saskatchewan’s only petroleum engineering program).

Unfortunately, the subtitle of that article should have been, “That rotten stench in the air… is the smell of shoddy research mixed with biased and unethical journalism.” Clearly, none of the journalism students had taken the Balanced Journalism: 101 class. If they had, they would have at least in passing included some or all of the following facts:

·         Since the original complaints in the Oxbow area arose (allegedly in 2012), gas conservation in that has increased from approx. 30 per cent to 77 per cent in April 2017.

  • Oxbow has been an oil-town for over 50 years, and the significance of that resource to the area and its economy is reflected both on the town website and in the pump-jack sign as you enter town. Despite that fact, none of the 26 individuals and 20 institutions credited with the story, provided a single quote from a single representative of the energy companies operating in that area. Perhaps they didn’t know how to find them. If they want to do so in the future, here’s a tip: look for the trucks with the oil company logos on the side, or the workers wearing hard-hats, safety glasses and protective coveralls.
  • While any death is a tragedy, to use the death of one oil field worker in 2014 as the basis for suggesting that industry is both under-regulated and has little regard for human life is a stain on the journalistic abilities of both the current reporters and those aspiring to that profession. Perhaps they could have spent five minutes on the WCB website and then reported that in the past five years, there were only two fatalities in the Sask. energy sector (the second on a drilling rig in 2016). If fatalities are a proxy for calling for the termination of a particular sector of our economy, they may have wanted to do some “research” into the “Elementary and Secondary Education” sector in this province, as they reported two fatalities in that same five-year period. In 2016, the energy sector had zero fatalities and only 87 registered claims involving time lost. By contrast, “Elementary and Secondary Education” had 215 claims and one fatality, and “Health Authority, Hospitals and Care Homes” had 1,646 claims and one fatality.

Surely there must be an exposé to follow from the Toronto Star or the National Observer, calling for increased regulation and a public inquiry into our schools, universities, hospitals and care homes. Or perhaps there won’t be, as that wouldn’t support the anti-oil narrative that they are promulgating … under the banner of journalism. Regrettably, it seems that President Trump may actually be onto something with his “Fake news” mantra.

(Editor's Note: this is the second in a series of several related stories on H2S in Southeast Saskatchewan. Additional stories will be posted at in the coming days)

See related story:

Shirley Galloway, in her own words, on H2S

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