Oliver: Stopping Keystone XL would not keep oil sands in the ground

Defeating the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project would not keep Canada from producing crude oil from its oil sands, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said during a visit to Washington.

“Several of the project’s opponents believe it would be a decisive body blow which would keep the oil sands in the ground. That’s simply wrong,” he said in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Apr. 24.

Oliver called on the Obama administration to approve the project and allow construction to begin on the pipeline’s final 875 miles.

“This project is completely in step with the long and productive US-Canadian energy relationship,” Oliver said. “Rejecting it would be a serious reversal of that relationship.”

He disputed environmental organizations’ charges that the crude would be exported once it reached the US Gulf Coast, saying it simply would replace heavy oil US processors now import from Venezuela, which has become a much less reliable supplier.

“For the US, it comes down to a clear choice: import more heavy oil from its closest neighbor which respects contracts and has similar environmental goals, or continue to get it from a country which has threatened to cut off supplies 5 times in the last 5 years,” he said.

Oliver said he considers rail a possible transportation supplement—but not a replacement—for pipelines. Canada is interested in building pipelines to begin exporting crude from its east and west coasts to countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, he said.

“Right now, we have one main customer,” he said. “The United States will need to continue importing oil as it develops its considerable resources, but imports won’t be as big a part of its total supply. Canada would like to start selling its oil to other consuming countries.”

Oliver spoke while US construction trades unions rallied in support of Keystone XL and the jobs it would produce in front of the AFL-CIO’s national headquarters.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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