Canadian Lawyer InHouse

April/May 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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Page 28 of 43 27 2050, with an interim target of reducing emission intensity by 35 per cent by 2030. The North American energy infrastructure giant is also striving to increase how diverse racial and ethnic groups are represented within the workforce by 2025. "If you're not considered one of the best in your industry in terms of ESG, access to capital is going to get more and more difficult because the capital providers — whether they be on the debt or equity side — are going to become much more discerning about where they put their money," says Bob Rooney, executive vice president and chief legal officer at Enbridge Inc. "There is going to be a lot more ESG focus by investors, and we're seeing that with what some of the banks are doing and also with some of the large institutional shareholders." Many Calgary-based oil and gas companies have been developing renewable power projects for quite some time, making them attractive to investors, McNally says. "In-house counsel at Canadian oil and gas companies have a bit of a head start because they are already at the forefront from the robust regulatory and environmental perspective," he says. Stimpson recommends caution when managing the reputational and legal risks of overstating or misrepresenting ESG practices and commitments. "We have seen increasing criticism and activism from shareholders, employees, communities and other stakeholders where companies are falling short on their stated commitments to sustainability, diversity and other socially responsible practices," she says. "Corporate commitments should be supported by an internal system of account- ability with clearly articulated roles and responsibilities, properly allocated resources and capital and alignment of performance and compensation criteria." From his perspective at Enbridge, Rooney says he is optimistic about the future of Canada's oil and gas industry. "The Canadian business on the upstream side is well positioned to take advantage of the North American market in general, and that's because we've got very long-lived assets that are very competitive in terms of total cost," says Rooney. "Canada is well connected through the pipeline of networks coming into the U.S., so that bodes very well for the Canadian market on the oil side, and it's a similar scenario for natural gas. It's not without challenges, but, right now, Canada is positioned to do well." Despite declining demand in 2020, Enbridge has continued to operate as an essential service throughout the pandemic. The legal department — consisting of 250 lawyers across North America — continued to support the organization in the remote landscape by navigating approvals, permits and corporate finance work. As Enbridge began construction on its crude oil pipeline replacement in Minnesota in December 2020, Rooney's team has been heavily involved in supporting the project. "The role of the legal department is to ensure that we've got all the approvals and permits we need to develop that project, so that's been an immense amount of work," says Rooney. As the COVID vaccine rolls out this year, in-house counsel at oil and gas companies will be fundamental in steering their organizations toward a safe economic recovery. McNally notes a shift away from hyper-production growth toward a free cash flow generation. "Legal counsel will be very involved in making sure they have all the appropriate workplace health and safety policies in place," says McNally. "Legal departments are going to have to face the reality of finding cost savings and efficiencies wherever they can." "The ESG record for our oil and gas companies in Canada is very good compared to most other jurisdictions." Stephanie Stimpson, Torys LLP

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