Jim Prentice lives in Calgary and is a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute in Washington. His book Canada, Energy and the Environment will be published by Harper Collins.
It is encouraging to see some early signs that Canada’s new governments understand that export pipelines are vital to Canada’s economic future.
Canada is one of the world’s largest exporters of crude oil. We produce four million barrels of oil a day and export three million barrels of it. We are also the world’s fourth-largest exporter of natural gas.
Sadly, we are not a global presence when it comes to our energy resources. Canadian governments play checkers, while others play chess.
The critical problem is that we have effectively landlocked ourselves and lack the pipeline or port infrastructure to access global markets or realize global ambitions. Instead, we serve as a supplier to one customer, admittedly an important one, the United States.
The United States has been a comfortable energy market for Canada for many years, but today, the American market is saturated with competing oil-supply sources and new technologies have opened up its own oil and gas supplies.
Those new supplies have pushed aside Canadian natural gas and have suppressed the prices for continental oil, including Canada’s. This isn’t because the Americans are taking advantage of us; it is what free markets do when they are oversupplied and it is costing Canadian governments billions of dollars every year.
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