Canada facing competition in energy markets; time to get going, says Rickford

EDMONTON – Federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford says time is of the essence for Canada to get its oil and gas to markets because other countries are getting into the game.

Rickford told a business crowd in Edmonton that Russia is spending a lot on exploration, while England, Poland and Romania are also sitting on a large supply of shale gas, and they’re looking to be an energy power as well.

The minister said Friday that he’s looking at 2017-2018 as a medium-range goal to get Canada’s energy to overseas markets.

He says the U.S. has been told that while it is our Number 1 trading partner, Canada is also looking to sell its products elsewhere.

Rickford also said Canada is working aggressively to make sure proposed pipelines meet stringent standards for reliability and safety. Rickford says it’s a view shared by Alberta’s new premier, Jim Prentice.

“Seventy-two thousand kilometres of federally regulated pipeline has a 99.999 safety record and we’re building on that. And it seems to me that Premier Prentice is focused on that and so I see a lot of opportunity and potential in those regards to move those products to tidewaters,” he said.

Rickford delivered a similar message at the U.S.-Canada Energy summit in Chicago on Thursday.

He stressed that TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline remains a priority for Canada, saying U.S. approval will create jobs and economic growth on both sides of the border while increasing North American energy security.

“In such an uncertain world, it is more important than ever that we continue to work together as partners, act together as friends and lead together as allies,” Rickford said.

The White House has yet to approve the project amid massive environmental protests. The project proposes to ship oilsands crude from Hardisty, Alta., to markets in the American Midwest and the U.S. Gulf Coast.

(CHED, The Canadian Press)