I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reported on the delicate balance between Canada and the United States when it comes to energy supplies and the politics of petroleum here at home. As recently as last month, Ed was sounding the warning bells, noting that Canada has plenty of buyers for their oil and, while they would far prefer to do business with us, their patience is not limitless. And now, the Prime Minister of Canada is scheduling a few new meetings, which could indicate that he’s simply lost faith in Obama’s ability or intention to deliver.
Canada is now looking to Asian countries to market its abundance of oil, natural gas and minerals as plans to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have stalled with the U.S. administration.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will travel to China next month to discuss selling Canada’s bounty to the rapidly growing nation.
The preferred initial plan was to build the $7 billion Keystone pipeline to deliver Alberta’s oilsands crude to refineries in Texas on the Gulf of Mexico.
Harper reasoned that the U.S. government would prefer to deal with a friendly neighbor to help meet its energy needs while creating thousands of jobs.
With widespread opposition by U.S. environmentalists, the Obama administration has delayed its decision on whether to approve the project proposed by energy giant TransCanada Pipelines.
The new plan would market to China and Asian countries through the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would transport Alberta’s oil and natural gas to British Columbia for shipment by tankers.
Environmentalists’ concerns about the Gateway project, proposed by Enbridge, are being reviewed at National Energy Board hearings under way in Kitimat, British Columbia.
This doesn’t mean that all is lost… yet. Harper would be foolish indeed not to keep all of his options open in terms of making the best economic deal for his nation, and there’s no indication that he’s going to ink some definitive deal on this first trip. Also, this could be a calculated move to shake up Obama a bit and possibly spur him to quicker action. Plus, both pipelines face significant challenges in getting them built, so we’ll be afforded a bit more time, as the Northern Gateway isn’t going to just leap into existence overnight.
But that doesn’t mean we have forever. China has money to spend and a voracious appetite for oil. If they manage to get a direct tap established from Canada to their tankers, that ship will have sailed. Literally.