The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is Canada’s largest and most powerful oil and gas industry association. Its members produce 80% of Canada’s natural gas and crude oil. CAPP consolidates industry expertise and defines and advances the interests of the oil and gas sector in Canada.
Headquarters: Calgary, Alberta
Memberships: Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC), Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, IPIECA, International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.
CAPP was founded as the Alberta Oil Operators’ Association, an oil lobby, in 1927. The Association underwent a number of name changes before becoming the Canadian Petroleum Association in 1952. In 1992, the CPA was amalgamated with the Independent Petroleum Association of Canada (IPAC) to create the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
There is no one industry association that represents the entire fossil fuel sector, although CAPP (whose remit includes natural gas) comes closest. CAPP describes itself as ‘the voice of Canada’s upstream petroleum industry.’ As a key political organ of the fossil-fuel industry, it advocates extensively in favour of expanded bitumen and natural gas production and pipeline infrastructure. CAPP does so by lobbying federal and provincial governments, creating research reports, circulating policy briefs and media releases and funding other civil society organizations that champion the interests and perspectives of the fossil fuel industry in Canada.
Through 11 Executive Policy Groups and with 80+ staff, CAPP has produced hundreds of publications on public and industry policy. These include in-house publications that promote the economic merits of extraction and present energy market statistics on industry trends such as the state of LNG development in BC, and oil and infrastructure supply. CAPPs influence in Canadian civil society extends a degree beyond direct industry advocacy, as its publications involve interventions on public policy questions.
CAPP – along with the Business Council of Canada (in all its incarnations since the 1980s) – has subsequently played a major role in shaping Canada and Alberta’s climate change policies, campaigning for a voluntary (non-regulatory) and technology-fund-driven approach to the reduction of GHGs by large emitters. CAPP’s approach has been adopted by successive governments in Alberta and federally since the 1990s. Alberta’s “cap-and-trade” system for emitters amounts to an insignificant cost for oil sands producers, and the Climate Change Emissions Management Fund recycles much of the carbon levy revenue back to large emitters in the form of R&D grants. While some of the large corporations operating in the oilsands have publicly acknowledged the need for carbon pricing, CAPP has lobbied against the “dialling up” of emissions reduction requirements and of the carbon levy rate.
CAPP successfully opposed reforms to Alberta’s royalties regime in the 2000s, when the Stelmach Government was set to implement the recommendations of its 2006-2007 royalties review panel, and again in 2015.
In July 2017, CAPP issued a policy document that is a significant marker of its assumptions about its relationship with the government of Alberta. The document, entitled “A competitive policy and regulatory framework for Alberta’s upstream oil and natural gas industry,” sets out the energy corporations’ wish-list for reduced taxation, more labour market “flexibility,” the use of offsets to comply with GHG emissions reduction requirements, “streamlined” environmental regulations, and the continuation of the use of the CCEMC as a technology fund for the R&D of large emitters. It proposed the creation of “a Sustainable Prosperity Steering Committee where industry and government can work together to find solutions that bring back investment, enhance competitiveness and regulatory timelines, address uncertainty caused by federal initiatives and ultimately create jobs for Albertans”(2). The Association sought to extend its role in policy decision-making to the “whole-of-government” (4). Its proposed “steering committee” was to be “comprised of senior representatives from the regulated community and the province—notably the Premier’s Office, the ministries of Energy, Economic Development and Trade, and Environment and Parks and the Alberta Energy Regulator,” and to “prioritize opportunities for regulatory enhancement and protecting investment”(4).
CAPP also involves itself policy and regulatory initiatives of other provincial governments and, of course, the federal government. Provincially, CAPP lobbied the BC Liberal party 1,848 times between 2010 and 2016 (October), including some 201 contacts between October 2015-August 2016 concerning the BC Climate Leadership Plan. In its submission to the BC provincial Climate Leadership Plan, CAPP suggested that “climate policy initiatives undertaken by the province seek to not only preserve, but enhance the economic competitiveness of British Columbia’s upstream oil and gas sector.” Here CAPP was encouraging the government to use its climate policy as a means of bolstering the profitability of the fossil fuel industry.
As of 2018, CAPP has 35 active Federal lobbyists (not counting consultant lobbyists) and from November 2011 to February 2018 it registered 1,268 lobbying communications with Federal Government officials, making it the leading lobbyist within the fossil fuel sector. CAPP lobbies on topics ranging from Aboriginal Affairs to Taxation and Finance, and, of course, Energy, Environment and Climate and has weighed in on the recommendations of the Expert Panel on the Modernization of the National Energy Board and lobbied the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada on proposed changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
As suggested above, CAPP also funds civil society organizations that shore up the case for ‘business as usual’ surrounding fossil-fuel based energy. For example, CAPP is as a major funder of Vancouver-based Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Shipping, a policy planning group established in 2014, which touts the merits of LNG shipping. CAPP also sponsors astro-turf (faux grass roots) ‘citizen groups’ and initiatives such as Canada’s Energy Citizens—an advocacy organization for the Canadian oil and gas industry whose social media campaigns and rallies convene on-the-ground support for the sector. These groups present themselves as citizens’ initiatives, allowing them to overcome perceptions of elitism, while delivering pro-corporate messages to the public. In order to position itself as a citizens’ initiative, Canada’s Energy Citizens does not actively promote its funding relationships with the oil and gas sector, but CAPP’s website features the organization as one of its major grantees.
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.