Canada needs to ex­pand crude oil mar­ket: min­is­ter

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY ALY THOM­SON

Canada needs to ex­pand its mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties for crude oil now that a deal on Iran's nu­clear pro­gram is ex­pected to open up that coun­try's oil sup­ply to in­ter­na­tional trade, Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Greg Rick­ford said Mon­day.

Speak­ing dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Energy and Mines Min­is­ters' Con­fer­ence in Hal­i­fax, Rick­ford said mar­ket ac­cess is not a pri­or­ity, it's an im­per­a­tive.

He said Canada is well-po­si­tioned to ex­pand its mar­ket given its po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity.

“This is an eco­nomic and a po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage that I think Canada stands amongst other coun­tries who are net ex­porters of petroleum prod­ucts,” said Rick­ford.

“But we can't rest on our lau­rels. We have to be vig­i­lant in our ef­forts to en­sure that we can sup­ply a mar­ket be­yond where we cur­rently are.”

He said Ot­tawa is work­ing to­wards that end, adding that there are eight new mar­kets ex­port­ing Cana­dian crude, in­clud­ing Spain, France and Hong Kong.

Dur­ing a key­note speech on Mon­day af­ter­noon, Rick­ford high­lighted that be­tween 2005 and 2014, Canada's crude oil ex­ports grew by 81 per cent.

“In Italy, the value of Cana­dian im­ports grew al­most six-fold be­tween 2013 and 2014, and now ac­count for more than three per cent of Italy's crude oil im­ports,” he said.

Rick­ford also pointed to the gov­ern­ment's new pipeline safety mea­sures dur­ing his speech, which in­clude ab­so­lute li­a­bil­ity for all Na­tional Energy Board-reg­u­lated pipe­lines.

Pipeline safety has been top of mind for Ot­tawa as it pushes the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to ap­prove Tran­sCanada's Key­stone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf.

The Key­stone XL oil pipeline, which is de­signed to go from Canada through Mon­tana and South Dakota to Ne­braska, has been mired in the U.S. reg­u­la­tory process for nearly seven years.

De­lays in ap­prov­ing the Key­stone XL oil pipeline have caused fric­tion be­tween the U.S. and Canada, which needs in­fra­struc­ture in place to ex­port its grow­ing oil pro­duc­tion. Canada re­lies on the U.S. for 97 per cent of its energy ex­ports.

Last week, the coun­try's pre­miers and ter­ri­to­rial lead­ers were in New­found­land and Labrador to talk about energy is­sues, in­clud­ing the pro­posed Energy East pipeline, which would trans­port Al­berta bi­tu­men to New Brunswick.

CP PHOTO

Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Greg Rick­ford an­swers a ques­tion dur­ing Ques­tion Pe­riod in the House of Com­mons in Ot­tawa on Feb. 26, 2015. Canada needs to ex­pand its mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties for crude oil now that a deal on Iran's nu­clear pro­gram is ex­pected to open up that coun­try's oil sup­ply to in­ter­na­tional trade, Rick­ford said Mon­day.

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