Last week, Alberta’s Energy Minister Ron Liepert was in the US to promote his province’s energy sector. During breakfast at the Penn Club in Manhattan organized by the Canadian Consulate-General, he discussed a wide array of energy-related subjects. The message he had for US foreign policy was simply that Alberta (and by extension Canada as a whole) offers a much more secure and palatable source of energy for the US than places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Therefore, it deserves greater attention and investment.
Of the 8 million barrels of oil America imports daily, 2 million of them come from Canada. The minister argued quite cogently that expanding that with projects like the proposed extension of TransCanada Corp.’s C$13 billion (US$13.3 billion) Keystone pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico is not just good business (creating thousands of jobs in the six states it crosses and boosting US GDP by $20 billion by some estimates), but also it enhances America’s energy security. Moreover, America’s moral position benefits from relying more on Canada than on dictatorships in the Arab world – the Mounties don’t shoot protesters.
Unfortunately from the minister’s perspective, the US State Department is holding up the Keystone project, and part of his mission was to get the bureaucratic roadblocks to this and other projects removed. Another part of his mission was to get Wall Street to put more money into Alberta.
The minister was fairly diplomatic in pointing out that, as much as he likes America and Americans, he had to look to Alberta’s interests first. More than a few Asian entities have expressed a desire to help develop Alberta’s energy sector (and one expects that to apply to the rest of Canada as well). If the US doesn’t do what is necessary, Mr. Liepert will be forced to work with British Columbia to build pipelines that run to the Pacific to ship the fuel to Asia.
As usual with this sort of meeting, the minister’s staff had reports and studies for those interested in digging deeper into the subject matter: Energizing Investment; Enhancing Assurance Discussions; Report and Recommendations of the Regulatory Enhancement Task Force; and Energizing Economies: Understand Royalties.