The World Energy Council is Meeting in
Montreal to Set a 3-Year Agenda
Without a lot of pomp and ceremony, the World Energy Council (WEC) is convening their Congress, an event held every three years, in Montreal this week. The 100-country-strong organization brings together governments and industry to find energy solutions on a global scale. Established in 1923, the organization covers all types of energy, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, ethanol, and renewables. The WEC's stated mission is “To promote the sustainable supply and use of energy for the greatest benefit of all people”.
The organizers of the event have strategically positioned the Congress on the world’s energy calendar. The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) met less than a year ago in Copenhagen, and it was just a few months since the last G8 and G20 summit meetings met in Toronto. Those meetings created headlines over its $1.2 billion budget, nearly 90% devoted to security matters alone. Appreciable demand in the Loonie may have sent forex brokers scurrying to their trading desks, but this convention will more than likely be run on tighter budget guidelines.
However, this Congress is no small affair. Over 200 confirmed speakers from 52 different countries will come to discuss the world energy situation, and close to 3,500 participants are expected to attend the festivities in Montreal. Due to the current economic climate and sense of urgency before the COP16 meeting in a few months, a number of energy related organizations have joined forces with the WEC to meet and discuss the pressing energy issues that confront the planet today. These organizations include the following:
- Financial Times Energy Leaders Summit
- A special meeting of the energy ministers from the 70 state and government members from the International Organisation of La Francophonie
- A special meeting of the energy ministers from the 53 Commonwealth countries
- 2010 Canadian Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference
- American North East and Eastern Canadian provinces Technical Meeting (NICE)
- A special meeting of the Aluminum Association of Canada
- A special assembly of the Canadian Association of Members of Public Utility Tribunals (CAMPUT)
- The Annual General Meeting of the Electricity Sector Council of Canada
- Meeting of the E8 - High-Level Dialogue on Fostering Investment in Electricity Generation in Central and Eastern Europe
- Task Force of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Cleaner Fossil Energy
- A Seminar of the World Bank on Financing Energy Projects
- Board Meeting of the International Hydropower Association
The word on the street is that the major theme is nuclear. Even though many environmentalists have been slow to embrace the fact that nuclear power is a necessary part of our energy strategy going forward, it does provide over 70% of the power generated from non-fossil fuel sources. In a private interview, Luis Echavarri, head of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, has bluntly stated that there are over 1,000 new nuclear power reactors in the planning stages today that will become operational in the decades to come.
From a purely investment perspective, these projects represent a major source of revenue for the many companies that support this industry. The estimated cost per reactor is approximately $4 billion, and with one thousand power stations in the current pipeline, that amounts to a $4 trillion market opportunity going forward. Sharpen up your pencils and start searching for the beneficiaries of this largesse if you wish to benefit from this long-term opportunity.
Canada is a logical country to host a meeting of this type. When one thinks of oil, we tend to think of oil sheiks of Arabian origin. However, Canada actually is a strong number two in the world in the category of known oil reserves, 33% behind Saudi Arabia, and 30% ahead of Iran. In case you are curious, we are twelfth on this hit parade and less than 12% of our northern neighbor’s stockpile. The Canadian Dollar, or Loonie as it is affectionately referred to, seems to be inextricably tied to the fortunes of oil, since the Canadian economy is basically commodity-driven.
Many of the key issues going forward relate to the warming Arctic, ocean acidification, climate change impacts on civilization, and nitrogen management in climate policy development, but the United States at present has resisted signing and agreeing to any binding international agreement like the Kyoto Protocols. Discussions on cap-and-trade legislation are deadlocked in Congress. Our nation has balked at following through on many public promises made at previous international forums by allowing proposed legislation to languish in a Congressional committee. However, the rest of the world is still holding out hope that the political climate will moderate and accept the responsibility that is surely ours to take. The WEC Congress is just one more opportunity to restore our image on the world’s energy stage.
About the author: Chris Marchalleck is a market analyst for Forex Traders, an online resource for currency trading and forex news