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North America Energy Forum 2017

Energy in North America – integrating it, regulating it, investing in the infrastructure, and envisioning its future – took center stage at the Wilson Center's 2017 North America Energy Forum. Hosted by the Mexico and Canada Institutes, the event drew top officials from government and industry for in-depth discussions on keeping the continent up and running.

Date & Time

Sep. 27, 2017
9:00am – 4:00pm ET


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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The Mexico and Canada Institutes hosted the Wilson Center's 2017 North America Energy Forum, now in its fourth year. The event focused on the major challenges and opportunities facing energy producers and consumers in the region, with a strong focus on innovation in the energy sector.

Key Quotes

Ambassador Gerónimo Gutiérrez
  • “We are certain that energy reform [is] clearly improving our energy industry. It’s also providing very important business opportunities for partners worldwide, benefiting [not only] the economy of Mexico, but the regional economies and supply chains of Mexico, the United States, and Canada."
  • “[Mexico’s reform model allowed] for the state and private sector to strike the right balance to truly develop the energy sector.” 
Energy Integration
John Padilla
  • “You’ve had a flip of the switch. We went from about $21 billion trade deficit, to Mexico from the U.S., to a $10 billion trade balance.” 
  • “There are a lot of people that invested into all of this activity [in Mexico] based on the fact that they had protection through NAFTA.”
Rob Dutton
  • “We don’t necessarily see the border as something that exists as a trade barrier.” 
  • “We’ve seen evidence that the NAFTA agreement, specifically related to energy, has kept energy affordable and reliable.”
Dave Lye
  • “For most, if not all, in our industry, the view is that NAFTA works.” 
  • “If the goal is to improve the effectiveness of energy trade in the region, [tariffs and regulations] could be worked on and tweaked.” 
Energy Regulation
Hon. Rona Ambrose
  • “Getting [energy regulation] right is not only important for energy companies and the environment, but for the citizen who needs access to affordable and reliable energy for quality of life and standard of living.” 
Randall Luthi
  • “Believe me, the regulatory regimes of different countries will determine where they invest their hard-earned capital.”
  • “Particularly those that are not big fans of the fossil fuel industry believe that the industry doesn’t care for regulations. I can tell you, that is just not the case. We want to be regulated.”
Luis Martínez-Montoya
  • “[ASEA] concentrates on the most significant risks associated to the operations we regulate. Then we decide to base our regulatory pieces on internationally known practices to address such risks.” 
  • “ASEA has developed a 'short-cut' to accelerate the development of energy regulation by involving [the energy] industry and other relevant stakeholders on the early development of regulatory drafts.” 
Jim Ellis
  • “Some people think being competitive means you’re cutting corners and all of that. It’s just being a smart regulator and implementing smart regulations. It can be done and it can be done exceptionally well.”
  • “The game’s changed here a little bit. Who we deal with and how we deal with them is very different than [what] regulators have had to deal with in the past. The game has changed significantly on this. The speed of change right now, as we all know, is something we’ve never seen before in the history of the world, and it’s getting faster.” 
Christopher Guith
  • “While the federal government may be going [one] way, whereas it was going [another] way a year ago, I would argue, as a rough calculation, 80 percent of the decisions that impact the energy industry are made at the state and local level.” 
Energy Infrastructure
Duncan Wood
  • “There’s an enormous potential to do something positive for the North American energy sector [and] the U.S. energy sector and it’s not happening at this point in time.” 
  • "[Cross-border electrical transmission] should be a no-brainer because of the efficiency in the regional market that would stem from being able to exchange electrons in a much easier way. It would spur further investment in [energy] generation on both sides of the border.”
  • “The Mexican government is doing something right in the sense of insisting that any major energy project in Mexico has to have a social impact evaluation. This forces companies to do their homework.”
Toby Mack
  • “In the end, it's the energy consumer that benefits from cross-border integration on infrastructure.”
Innovation and the Future of Energy
Gitane de Silva
  • “I wouldn’t underestimate the government’s convening power in terms of spurring innovation. The government can force people to come together who maybe don’t want to, to address a common problem, instead of dealing with it in silos.”
  • “I also think that governments can help by allowing for failure. There is no innovation without failure. So, if we can change policies to do things like – recently, in our royalty system in Alberta, we allowed that if you were drilling for ‘x’ and found ‘y,’ you’re no longer penalized for finding ‘y’. If we can make it more acceptable for you to fail through changes to tax codes – that can also spur innovation.”
Maj. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • “We know we’re in a realm where technology is moving so fast and [where we have] the emergence of disruptive technologies that can occur that will change an entire sector of a global economy.”
  • “When we’re talking about innovation, we have to think hard [about] how we can create or help nurture a regulatory climate that can accept some risk when the radical, disruptive technologies come along.” 
William McCaffrey
  • “As an industry, one of the things we have to think about is, how do we survive? And I think that’s not a bad way of looking at it. We know that every single day we have to do better than we did yesterday, so there are no days that exist that we say, ‘Wow, we’re good enough now.’ We have to keep improving and that’s where a culture aspect has to come into this.”
  • “We do see tremendous opportunities for the public and private sectors to work together, but I think they have to be committed to a common goal to start with.”
Hector Olea
  • “I’m very pessimistic about government driving innovation. I don’t really believe in that. I do believe innovation is driven by economics, by solutions that make sense, projects that are bankable… I do believe the government has a place in innovation... by putting together public policy that is conducive to innovation, to put together public policy that creates markets.” 
  • “Wind and solar power have been the big winners in this changing world because regulation that is conducive to the development of renewable [energy] has been implemented in Mexico.”
Derek Leathers
  • “I do want to remind folks who are anti-trucking that 73 percent of all goods in America got there by truck. Ultimately, my point is that trucks touch everything. Our business is about how to do that responsibly, how to do that in a way that is economically feasible, and how to do it with an eye to the environment.”
  • “At the end of all of this, we are still challenged with the task of keeping the national freight network moving, and as one of the largest players in that space, nobody’s going to pay more for goods when innovated technologies increase cost of transportation by 30, 40, 50 percent. At the end of the day, we want to extract as much efficiency as possible out of the existing technology.”
Tom Linebarger
  • “My observation of our industry today is that we have been in a period of technical change for a while, related to the Clean Air Act and other emissions regulations driven by similar things across the world. But there has really not been a bigger period where technology is changing faster and more dramatically than today.”
  • “There is a lot going on in the area of commercial industrial equipment and none more than the question of what is going to be electrified with fuel cells down the road, what role is diesel and natural gas going to play… A lot of these technologies which we’ve studied for 20 years look like they might come ‘in the money’ in our sectors in the next five or 10 years, while we’re still working here, which is a big deal.”

Event Agenda

8:15 am – 9:00 am: Registration and Continental Breakfast Reception
9:00 am – Welcoming Remarks by Mexican Ambassador to the United States Gerónimo Gutiérrez
9:05 am – 10:00 am – Energy Integration
  • Dave Lye, SVP, External Affairs, Encana
  • Rob Dutton, President, Devon Canada Corp; Chairman, Canadian Assoc. of Petroleum Producers
  • Moderator: John Padilla, Managing Director and Partner, IPD Latin America 
10:00 am – 10:15 am – Networking Break 
10:15 am – 11:15 am – Energy Regulation 
  • Christopher Guith, SVP for Policy, Global Energy Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Luis Martínez-Montoya, Chief Advisor to the Executive Director, National Agency for Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection of the Hydrocarbons Sector (ASEA) (Mexico)
  • Jim Ellis, President & CEO, Alberta Energy Regulator (Canada)
  • Randall Luthi, President, National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA)
  • Moderator: Hon. Rona Ambrose, Former Leader of Conservative Party; Former Minister of Environment, Canada
11:15 am – 11:30 am – Networking Break 
11:30 am – 12:30 pm – Energy Infrastructure
  • Toby Mack, President, Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance
  • Drew Leyburne, Director General, Energy Policy Branch, Natural Resources Canada 
  • Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center
  • Moderator: Gitane De Silva, Alberta’s Senior Representative to the U.S.
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm – Private Lunch and High-Level Panel - The Future of North America’s Energy Revolution
1:30 pm – 1:45 pm – Networking Break 
1:45 pm - 3:45 pm: Innovation and the Future of Energy: New Fuels, Electric Cars, Hydrocarbons and Smart Grids
  • Derek Leathers, President and CEO, Werner Enterprises (Member of CANACAR)
  • Tom Linebarger, Chairman and CEO, Cummins Inc.
  • Hector Olea, President and General Director, Gauss Energia (Mexico)
  • William McCaffrey, President and CEO, MEG Energy (Canada)
  • Gitane De Silva, Alberta’s Senior Representative to the U.S.
  • Maj. Gen. Richard Devereaux, (Ret.) USAF; EVP, Texzon Technologies
  • Moderator: Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute 
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm- Networking Break
3:45 pm – 4:15 pm – Closing Keynote Speaker
  • Ira Ehrenpreis, Managing Partner, DBL Partners; Board of Directors, Tesla
4:15 pm – 4:30 pm: Closing Remarks by Duncan Wood and Laura Dawson 

Sponsored by: 

 Image removed.Organized by Senior Advisor Carl Colby.  

Platinum Sponsor: 

Hosted By

Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more

Canada Institute

Bound by common geopolitical interests and strong economic and cultural ties, Canada and the United States enjoy the world's most successful bilateral relationship. The Wilson Center's Canada Institute is the only public policy forum in the world dedicated to the full spectrum of Canada-U.S. issues. The Canada Institute is a global leader for policymakers, academics and business leaders to engage in non-partisan, informed dialogue about the current and future state of the relationship.     Read more

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