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Joe Oliver, the federal Natural Resources Minister, will find a partner in Alberta’s newly re-elected Premier in his efforts to promote the oil sands at home and abroad, a strategy he said is beginning to show results in Europe and in the United States.
Alison Redford’s Conservatives held on to power by a wide margin in Monday’s provincial vote, fending off a threat from the upstart Wildrose party.
Ms. Redford is pushing for a Canadian energy strategy to promote a national dialogue to encourage co-operation on energy and plans to spend billions in oil sands research to ensure environmentally responsible development. “This election was about choice, a choice to put up walls or build bridges,” Ms. Redford told supporters Monday evening. “Tonight Alberta chose to build bridges.”
While the federal government doesn’t see the need for an energy strategy, Mr. Oliver said Canada has a huge opportunity to sell its oil to new markets looking for energy security, but it will take a sustained and broad communication effort to defend the unconventional resource and he expects Alberta’s Premier to do her part.
“It’s important for Canada, it’s very important for Alberta,” Mr. Oliver said in Calgary. “From my point of view, having people out there, governments out there, including our government, it’s a big priority.”
Lack of pipeline capacity is depressing the price of Canadian oil, resulting in a $40-million daily loss to the Canadian industry and governments, he said. “We have a choice of either taking advantage of this for the benefit of ourselves, and our children or grandchildren, or letting the resource languish, while the Americans, the Australians, the Saudis, the Iranians take advantage of their natural resource blessings,” he said.
Mr. Oliver said there is a sense of urgency in framing the oil sands debate because pipeline export capacity is running out and other oil producers are courting the oil markets Canada is trying to capture.
Getting the facts out has helped Canada at the European Union, which has postponed until 2013 a decision on a fuel quality directive that could have penalized the oil sands.
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