UPDATE 1-Canadian minister lauds pipeline to U.S., eyes other markets

Tue Mar 5, 2013 4:32pm EST
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By Tom Polansek

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

The remarks by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver were one of the most high-profile attempts 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 to Chicago was arranged before the report was issued.

A final decision on Keystone will be made 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.

"America imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day and will need to import oil for decades to come," he said in the speech.   Continued...