This release was issued under a previous government.

The price of our resources continues to be driven down thanks to Canada’s decades-long failure to build new pipelines. Action must be taken on behalf of all Albertans.

Three special envoys will work with energy sector experts and CEOs to develop short- and medium-term solutions for closing the price gap. All available options will be on the table.

“We’re fighting for the Albertans who own these resources. We’re sick of being forced to give them away for pennies on the dollar. Industry is still divided on solutions, so we’re bringing the right people together to bridge those divides and propose options to closing this price gap for the benefit of all Albertans.”

Rachel Notley, Premier

The envoys each bring unique expertise to the job:

  • Robert Skinner, University of Calgary School of Public Policy, who has worked extensively in government, industry and academia on energy issues and strategy.
  • Brian Topp, former chief of staff to Premier Notley, who is a well-regarded consultant on public policy and has a long history as a negotiator.
  • Coleen Volk, Deputy Minister of Energy, well known to Alberta’s energy sector as government’s lead public servant on this file.

The envoys will begin their work immediately with industry to develop short- and medium-term solutions to close the oil price differential as much as possible with the tools available.


  • It’s estimated that the discount on Canadian oil caused by pipeline bottlenecks now costs producers and the Canadian economy as much as $84 million per day. This figure is calculated with methodology used by Scotiabank, and has been revised based on as high as a $45-per-barrel difference between WTI and WCS.
  • Alberta has launched a second phase of the nationwide Keep Canada Working campaign, with a real-time lost revenue counter illustrating just how much Canadians miss out on by keeping our energy resources landlocked. The counter will be displayed digitally at locations near Parliament Hill in Ottawa, supported by advertisements in various formats from coast to coast.

Full envoy biographies

Robert Skinner

Robert Skinner is an Executive Fellow with the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. Skinner’s career in energy spans more than four decades in government, industry and academia. He has worked in the federal public service and with the International Energy Agency. In the private sector, he directed the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies and has been a senior executive with Statoil. Skinner has been advising governments, industry and universities on strategy and is an occasional commentator on Canada’s energy challenges.

Brian Topp

Brian Topp works as a public affairs consultant. He is a Fellow with the Public Policy Forum, and is a member of the Government of Canada’s NAFTA advisory committee. Topp served as chief of staff to Premier Rachel Notley from the summer of 2015 to December 2016.

Coleen Volk

Coleen Volk is the Deputy Minister of Alberta Energy. Prior to joining the Alberta government in 2016, Volk served in a variety of senior leadership roles in the federal government, including associate deputy minister of Environment and Climate Change, deputy secretary to Cabinet in the Privy Council Office and assistant deputy minister of environment, industry and finance departments. She previously worked in the banking industry, holding senior roles at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.