Drouin playing key role at World Energy CongressCanada
The Montreal Gazette
Kathryn Leger, Freelance
Richard Drouin, the former Hydro-Quebec chief executive who is chairman of the organizing committee for the coming World Energy Congress, which starts Sunday, says there is "a growing sense of urgency" facing the global energy sector as top government officials and industry leaders from around the world gather for the meet in Montreal.
"Worldwide, all energy sectors now face a growing sense of urgency," said Drouin, counsel at the national law firm of McCarthy Tetrault LLP in Montreal, chairman of North American Electric Reliability Corp., and a member of Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
"Some predictions say that before 2050, the world consumption of energy will be twice what it is today, so if that is the case, where do we get it and how do we provide it to the people who don't have it," Drouin said.
An estimated 2 billion people - close to one-third of the world's population -do not have access to any power or a regular power supply.
More than 3,000 people will attend the Montreal congress, including 70 government ministers responsible for energy development in their countries, 11 (out of 14) Canadian
energy ministers, and the chief executives of some of the world's biggest energy producers.
The Congress, held every three years, is organized by the Londonbased World Energy Council, founded in 1923, which is a sort of federation of 93 national committees, including the Energy Council of Canada -a main sponsor of the event along with Hydro-Quebec.
Drouin concedes that co-ordinated policymaking among industry and governments of the world is a difficult challenge given the split between have and have-not countries, not to mention the so-called BRIC countries -Brazil, Russia, India and China -which are developing rapidly and are seeking solutions to modernize further through energy development, which goes hand in hand with economic development.
But the discussions, roundtables and an assembly of WEC members at the Montreal meeting will result in a declaration that comes at an important juncture just a few months after the G8 and G20 meetings in Canada, last year's Cop 15, the name for the United Nations Climate Change Conference meeting in Copenhagen, and the coming Cop 16 meeting in Cancun, Mexico.
Another challenge sure to attract attention -along with the many opportunities for networking for business development and deal-making at the meeting -is the question of financing for energy development.
Ilan Dunsky, co-chair of the infrastructure practice group at Heenan Blaikie LLP, who has worked on the development and financing of energy projects in North America, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, will speak at the conference about the outlook.
"It has been much more difficult to finance projects than it was (before the start of the credit crunch in 2008)," Dunsky said. "The last two years have seen, on the one hand, a winnowing out of marginal projects because they just won't get financing, whereas two or three years ago they might have, and at the same time innovative ways to finance a project and less innovative ways with a return to a requirement of more of an equity portion of the financing from the developer.
"We'd been seeing equity contributions at 10 to 15 per cent and now they are back at 20 to 25 per cent, often, not always," Dunsky said, adding that one innovations is the so-called "mini-perm" type of financing, through which financing is long-term, but the loan is revisited for refinancing after a certain number of years, giving banks a possible way out.
Veteran tax litigator Francois Barette has left Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP after 20 years to join the Montreal office of Fasken Martineau LLP to begin a specialty practice.
Paul-Arthur Gendreau, until recently a judge with the Quebec Court of Appeal, has joined the Quebec City office of Langlois Kronstrom Desjardins LLP as counsel for civil and commercial litigation and labour law.
Colin K. Irving, the veteran corporate litigator at Irving Mitchel Kalichman LLP, is the Lawyer of the Week profiled in a coming interview on Legal Matters, The Gazette's online legal page at www.montrealgazette.com./legalmatters.
This week, Irving was awarded the inaugural Medaille St-Yves by Pro Bono Quebec for his "outstanding contribution to pro bono legal services."
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