OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Finance Minister Joe Oliver said on Thursday the government remains committed to the Keystone XL pipeline project and that he believes "at the end of the day" it will gain approval.
TransCanada Corp's $8 billion Keystone XL project would carry Alberta oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf coast. The project has been awaiting presidential approval for more than six years, but this week's U.S. mid-term elections revived the issue after Republicans took control of Congress.
U.S. Senate Republicans will push ahead early next year with a bill to approve the long-stalled pipeline.
"We remain committed to the project," said Oliver, who was interviewed by Tom Brokaw at a dinner event on U.S.-Canadian relations. "We believe at the end of the day it will achieve approval. We're hopeful that will happen."
Still, when asked what effect the U.S. mid-terms might have on the Canadian economy, Oliver said he did not necessarily expect the elections to change anything fundamental, acknowledging the speculation around what might happen with energy sector.
At the same as he emphasized Canada's trade relationship with the United States, Oliver also spoke about the need for the country to diversify where it sends its resources, particularly in light of the shale gas boom south of the border.
"We have a specific challenge, which is that we only have one customer, and that customer, the United States, has found vast amounts of shale and gas and oil," the former energy minister said.
"Those discoveries, which will be of enormous benefit to the United States, is changing the global energy picture. So we have to look at that and clearly have to diversify our markets and we're going to be pursuing that."
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Ken Wills