Canada says it may take EU to WTO over oil sands dispute

Wed May 8, 2013 12:43pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Canada threatened on Wednesday to take the European Union to the World Trade Organization over its plans to label Canadian oil sands as dirty, but promised not to delay a bilateral trade pact.

The issue has overshadowed relations as Canada and the EU try to deepen economic ties through a trade deal that could generate $28 billion a year in new business and commerce.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, on a week-long lobbying trip to Europe, accused the EU of breaking international trade rules and discriminating against Canadian exports.

"We are going to take whatever action we need to, and we may well go to the WTO," Oliver told a news conference. "We will defend our interests vigorously."

The WTO has the power to order the EU to change its rules if they are found to be unfair, but the process is lengthy.

Canada's oil sands are the world's third largest crude reserves, but most are in the form of tar sands. Extraction from the clay-like deposits takes more energy than pumping conventional oil and results in higher carbon emissions.

The European Commission has proposed labeling oil from tar sands as "highly polluting" to help implement an EU goal to cut the carbon intensity of its transport fuels by 6 percent by 2020.

The Commission denies that it is singling out Canadian oil as its proposal also defines other unconventional sources of oil as carbon-intensive.   Continued...

The Suncor tar sands mining operation north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, November 3, 2011. REUTERS/Todd Korol