11 September 2007

Energy Plan

[Update: 1400 hrs local. More on the energy plan later on Tuesday and on Wednesday.]

When is a plan not a plan?

When it is a political statement.

Around Bond, we branded the energy plan - released today at 11:30 AM - as a political document months ago.

Some details may change, but the substance of that view remains.

The Hebron deal was a sign of how details may change, for example. That's the deal in which we now have Premier Danny Williams heading into his first election as Premier endorsing the royalty approach he condemned as leader of the opposition only four short years ago when he was looking for the job he's got now.

The big fight with Big Oil might not be such a big fight after all. In June, no one would have predicted a Hebron settlement. But the political nature of the document will remain.

It will still be the story of our future, as in the future is ours. it will still be about "fair share" and reasonable."

But as in the Hebron deal, there will be a lot more accommodation and concession that anyone in government is prepared to acknowledge.

The gas royalty regime - which was supposed to be released with the plan - might not make an appearance today if some versions hold true. It might appear but in a very vague form. The operators, you see, have already made it plain that they really don't want to see costs driven up. Equity still causes a problem, apparently, and one of those problems is cost, especially if the provincial government wants to farm in, by law, from the outset and in future projects will get a right of management control.

Let's see how that one plays out.

There might also be a new oil royalty regime, modelled on Hebron, but that will have to be vague. After all, the Hebron memorandum of understanding is secret so far, hidden from the resource owners because the co-venturers - including the provincial government - agreed among themselves to keep it secret.

Overall, though, we'd expect there to be a rehash of the past, lots of election-type rhetoric. And when it comes to an actual plan with action items and timelines? Those things an administration can be held accountable for?

Don't hold breath today waiting for those.

And as sometimes occurs here at Bond, this is one of those occasions when it would be so nice to be proven completely, utterly and totally wrong.