Tomorrow’s transportation fuel

Some argue that oil is yesterday’s energy source. They’re right. Over the past century and a half, petroleum has fueled history’s fastest increase in the standard of living—worldwide.

By Kris Smith

Kris Smith

Kris Smith is Executive Vice-President, Refining and Marketing at Suncor, and Chair of the Canadian Fuels Association.

But in upholding our economic prosperity and quality of life while we pursue our environmental goals, petroleum is also a key part of our energy future. Yes, innovation is making progress in a variety of alternative fuel and vehicle technologies. It’s also driving ongoing improvements to petroleum products—many of them environmental. For example, today’s petroleum fuels are much cleaner than the fuels of yesterday, with remarkably lower sulphur content and smog causing emissions. And the industry is continuing to push improvement and innovation, the newest challenge being to reduce the carbon intensity of our fuels.

As the world’s predominant transportation fuel, today’s petroleum shoulders a great deal of the responsibility to help us get where we’re going—literally and figuratively. Alternative fuel and vehicle technologies are far from ready to bear more than a small fraction of the transportation load. Their technological progress is not measured in months. It’s measured in years and decades. However, one thing is clear; petroleum fuels can be relied on to meet the demands of a growing population and continue to improve the standard of living of people around the world.

“Alternative fuel and vehicle technologies are far from ready to bear more than a small fraction of the transportation load”

Evolving to meet new challenges

I can tell you, as someone who works in the petroleum sector, I believe that the industry is up to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions. Great engineering minds and resourceful companies are focused on continuous and substantial environmental improvements to the ways petroleum is produced, refined and used. The aim is simple: to make petroleum not only today’s fuel, the also the fuel of tomorrow.

And what better country to show leadership in lowering carbon intensity in the energy system? Canada is endowed with the resource and driven to innovate. We have a vibrant petroleum industry that employs tens of thousands and contributes billions to the economy. We have one of the world’s most progressive environmental regulatory frameworks. And faced with vast geography and a cold climate, we understand the vital importance of fuel efficiency and reliability.

This is not simply blind faith in the power of innovation. Our industry has a proven track record of environmental improvement over the last 50 years and there is more to come. Petroleum will be tomorrow’s fuel, trusted to meet its responsibility as a vital source of transportation energy. It will remain the go-to fuel that helps propel us to the environmental, social and economic outcomes that Canadians ultimately want.