Alberta Premier Jim Prentice issues challenge to U.S. leaders over Alberta oil

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice called for greater energy and environmental cooperation between Canada and the United States during a luncheon speech in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

Addressing over 130 political and business leaders with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Prentice highlighted the need for a unified North American approach to energy development and environmental standards while questioning American policies that exclude Alberta oil from the U.S. market “while giving a free pass to comparable oil from other countries, such as Venezuela.”

“Frankly, I say to you that we are actually headed for the worst of all worlds: a proliferation of sub-national standards, of diverse standards that apply to some kinds of oil and not others, that apply to some kinds of energy but not others, that apply to some methods of transportation but not others and that apply to some pipelines but not others,” said Prentice.

“My friends, this is distinctly not the genius of free trade at work.”

Prentice said the “energy renaissance” underway in North America, as the U.S. is set to pass Russia as the number one global producer of oil and gas, has opened up a triple competitive advantage for both nations over the rest of the industrial world — a security advantage, an industrial feedstock advantage and an environmental advantage.

Comparing the recent opening of Enbridge’s Flanagan South/Seaway pipeline with the struggle facing approvals for TransCanada’s $8-billion Keystone XL project, Prentice said the Keystone project delays are “confusing” to Canadians who see the U.S. as historically open to facilitating infrastructure to import oil from international suppliers.

“The oil it would carry is produced in my province under environmental standards that are at least as high as those that apply to oil produced in the United States and much, much higher than those that apply in other countries that are allowed to land their oil in the US market without interference,” he said.

While he once told Canadian media that Alberta’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects were a “science experiment” that required cautionary investments, Prentice heralded CCS as a “game-changing technology” in Washington, noting Alberta has committed $1.3 billion over 15 years to support two commercial scale CCS projects.

“I have long been an advocate of harmonized North American standards for emission reductions and reporting, especially industrial emissions. Alberta intends to be part of any such approach,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Prentice met with U.S. Department of Energy and Shell officials in Washington as the U.S. government announced it will work with Shell Canada at its Quest project in Alberta to develop new technologies for monitoring carbon dioxide stored deep underground. Alberta has invested $745 million in the Quest project.


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