The Keystone XL pipeline proposal is just as politically charged as ever, but practically speaking, the project is getting less and less relevant by the day. Canada would still very much like to get the pipeline started if they can, since terrestrial pipelines are the safest, cleanest, most cost-effective way to get the job of shipping done, but as everyone who doesn’t have their head determinedly stuck in the [oil] sand has already acknowledged, that oil is going to find its way to market one way or another — and if it’s not via pipeline or railroad to our refineries in the Gulf, then Canada will build out their own pipelines and railroads to the coasts for shipment by sea.

Canada has generally been thinking about Asia as the prime foreign market to buy up their oil sands, but the last few months of Russian aggression on the continent have started to affect Europeans’ previously high-minded feelings on the matter. Their overly expensive and failed green schemes combined with decreasing stability from their traditional energy partner has them feeling a bit more humble about the oil sands whose advances they once rejected, via the Financial Post:

As Europe reels from Moscow’s belligerence and utter dependence on its oil and gas supplies, the Harper government is positioning itself as a reliable partner ready to offer energy security to the continent.

Eager to diversify their energy resources, European countries are also warming up to Ottawa and softening their tough stance on the oil sands as they look to reduce their dependence on Russia’s oil and gas supplies.

The European Union has previously deemed the oil sands as one of the dirtiest forms of oil and its proposed Fuel Quality Fuel Directive would effectively make Canadian crude unwelcome in European refineries. But Russia’s latest aggressive moves in Ukraine have compelled the continent to take another look at Alberta crude.

“I feel better about it now than perhaps we have at any point in time,” Mr. Rickford said. “It was a very positive signal from the G7 energy ministers I met with. My discussion with European Union Council Representatives again [gave] a strong signal that this was moving in the right direction for Canada.”

Canada’s plans to build liquefied natural gas projects and crude oil pipelines from west to east was received with “enthusiasm” by his G7 counterparts, he added.

Whatever they ultimately decide to do, it would take a few years for both Canada and Europe to build the requisite infrastructure for shipping and receiving any petroleum products — but it sounds like Europe’s baronial green ideals are finding reality a little more difficult to contend with than they’d like.