Pipelines offer new energy opportunities for Canada: Alberta premier

HALIFAX – Alberta Premier Alison Redford said Saturday that Canada is facing new energy opportunities, citing the importance of exploring new markets in the United States and Asia.

Redford told the Halifax International Security Forum that her province’s oilsands need to access new markets, pointing to the Keystone XL pipeline to Texas and the Northern Gateway Pipeline to British Columbia as potential opportunities.

She said that would allow countries to divert their dollars from potentially volatile countries.

Although British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has expressed environmental concerns about the pipeline and is demanding a bigger share of the revenues for her province, Redford said a nearing provincial election could change the mood towards the project.

“What we’re starting to see is a willingness to talk about what arrangements might be able to be put in place to allow for access to Asia,” said Redford during a panel discussion about international energy security. “We know that we need to have access to Asia, and there are some very good pipelines structures already in British Columbia that allow for some of that access.

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“Things like this lead to economic growth, so one of the questions that I think is starting to be asked in British Columbia (is), ‘Do we want this economic growth, and how are we going to balance that?'”

Redford also cited ongoing discussions about moving resources from Western to Eastern Canada. She even went so far as to suggest eventually exporting those resources off the East Coast.

“My understanding is that at a commercial level, there’s been very good discussions going on and that there’s even been some work done with respect to… test samples, so we’ll see just how quickly this could get ramped up,” said Redford.

“We have the ability to work with pipeline infrastructure that is already in place just about across most of the country and I think it is important to talk about the economic benefits.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, who was also a part of Saturday’s panel, told the conference that his office recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama to urge action over TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline.

Obama rejected TransCanada’s application 10 months ago, citing concerns about the risks posed to an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska by the pipeline’s original route.

But the president invited TransCanada to submit another application after rerouting the pipeline around Nebraska’s Sandhills, necessitating another State Department environmental review of the US$7 billion project.

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Earlier this week, the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook that the United States would be capable of meeting its own energy needs by 2035.

Redford said that’s good news, pointing to a shift in the “global balance of power.”

“We are energy rich in an increasingly thirsty world,” said Redford. “As producers, and not just consumers of energy here in North America, we can reassess the global balance of power and, I believe, tilt it in new and unexpected ways.”

Earlier in the day, more than 200 people staged a protest outside the hotel where the forum was held to show their disapproval.

Isaac Saney said many in the group were also marching in solidarity with the Palestinian people in light of the ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip.