Pipeline dispute derails bid to create Canada energy policy

Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:39pm EDT
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By Richard Woodbury

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) - A dispute over a proposed oil pipeline to Canada's Pacific Coast derailed plans by premiers of the 10 Canadian provinces on Friday to devise a common policy on developing rich energy resources.

Premier Christy Clark of the westernmost province of British Columbia said she would boycott talks on energy until neighboring oil-rich Alberta agreed to share more revenue from Enbridge Inc's (ENB.TO: Quote) proposed C$6 billion ($6 billion) Northern Gateway pipeline.

The project is designed to take oil from Alberta's tar sands to a port in British Columbia for transport to China and other lucrative Asian markets.

The federal Conservative government strongly backs the pipeline, which would help to diversify exports away from the United States in the wake of Washington's decision last year to delay approving the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands to Texas.

"Until we see some progress in the discussions between British Columbia, Alberta and the federal government with respect to the Gateway pipeline through British Columbia, we will not be participating in a discussion of a national energy strategy," Clark told reporters.

The premiers, at a meeting in Halifax, had wanted to agree on how to best develop Canada's oil and gas resources as well as address problems such as the lack of a major pipeline to the east of the country, which is forced to import much of its oil.

"Provinces have had a real chance to demonstrate that we are willing to sit down at the table and take on some of these thorny issues between us and it hasn't happened," Clark said at the end of the three-day meeting.

Clark -- who said she had had frank talks on Friday with Alberta Premier Alison Redford -- insists she wants more money to compensate for the environmental risk of allowing the pipeline to cross British Columbia.   Continued...