Canadian minister lauds pipeline to U.S., says has other markets

Tue Mar 5, 2013 3:16pm EST
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By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, March 5 (Reuters) - A top Canadian government minister on Tuesday tried to persuade the United States it should approve a controversial oil pipeline and said Canada was also looking to other markets for its energy.

The remarks by federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver were the most high-profile attempt so far to pressure Washington into giving the green light to TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to Texas.

"We don't normally advocate for a particular project but we believe that it's in Canada's strategic interest to get our resources to tidewater to attract a higher price and to access broader markets," Oliver told reporters after a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The U.S. State Department said in a draft report last Friday that building the pipeline would not demonstrably boost emissions of greenhouse gases. Oliver said his visit was arranged before the report was issued.

A final decision will be taken later this year by U.S. President Barack Obama, who is under heavy pressure from environmentalists to veto the project on the grounds it will help speed up the process of global warming.

Oliver said the pipeline would generate thousands of jobs in the United States and reduce reliance on imports from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

"Canada is and wants to remain your most important energy partner," he said in his speech, noting that even if U.S. domestic production continued to rise, the country would still need Canadian crude.

Canada's pro-business right-of-center Conservative government is keen to see more development of the tar sands, which are estimated to contain 169 billion barrels of crude and are the world's third-largest proven reserve of oil.   Continued...