Premier Kenney continues push to replace Russian oil with Alberta crude

Click to play video: 'Conservative party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre  holds rally in Edmonton'
Conservative party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre holds rally in Edmonton
The River Cree Resort and Casino was packed to hear Conservative party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre speak in Edmonton. He has been drawing massive crowds across the country. Tom Vernon reports. – Apr 15, 2022

The federal Conservative Party leadership race has been making the rounds of western Canada over the last week, with leadership hopeful Pierre Poilievre making stops in Edmonton and Calgary.

His energy message is one that’s not only resonating with party supporters, but also falling in line with what Alberta’s premier is pushing — particularly the idea of increasing the province’s energy exports to the world.

“Not just for western interests, but for the national interests,” Poilievre told a crowd of about 1,000 people in Edmonton Thursday night. “Unleash the production of the most responsible and environmentally ethical energy anywhere on the Earth right here in western Canada.”

It’s another voice backing Jason Kenney in his push for more North American oil to supplant Russian supplies during the invasion of Ukraine.

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Earlier this week, Kenney hosted West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin in an effort to raise the profile of the province’s resources.

Both politicians expressed disappointment at the termination of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, which was cancelled by U.S. President Joe Biden last year on his first day in the White House.

In an interview Thursday, Kenney reiterated the federal government needs to step up.

“It would be nice if Justin Trudeau, as federal government, got in the game, selling Canadian energy as aggressively as we’re trying to do out of Alberta,” Kenney said. “He should pick up the phone, call President Biden and say the solution to the problem of rendered Russian energy exports is not Iran, Saudi or Venezuela. It’s Alberta. It’s Canada. Let’s work together.”

Richard Masson, an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, says the federal climate plan showed the oilsands growing from three million barrels per day to four million over the next eight to 10 years.

“That’s the kind of thing the world needs as we try to get off Russian oil,” said Masson. “Canada has the third largest reserves in the world, fourth largest producer in the world and the world’s not going to be able to move away from Russia unless we are one of the solutions to that situation.”

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Masson says opposition and growing expenses mean pipelines may not be the answer to moving Alberta’s oil.

“One of the things we’re going to have to look at is new technologies, partial upgrading, for example, to reduce the amount of diluent we ship around. That makes the pipeline more efficient and we have to build fewer pipelines ¯ or we’ll probably end up using rail as an alternative.

“Politicians saying we want to do it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, because there are lots of stakeholders, and there’s lots of existing law and precedent, including court cases that have really stymied pipeline construction. So politicians can use pipelines as a symbol, but it may not be the whole answer and we really need to look through the whole process.”

— with files from The Canadian Press and Michael King

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