After U.S. oil snub, Canada focuses on China

Mon Feb 6, 2012 7:41pm EST
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will focus on exporting oil and other goods to China and other booming Asian economies even if Washington overturns its decision to block a pipeline that would have sent more Canadian crude to the United States.

Speaking ahead of Canada's most high-powered trade mission to Beijing for almost 15 years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Reuters that Canada must focus on markets that are growing, regardless of the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is proposed to carry crude from the Alberta oil sands to Texas refineries.

The U.S. State Department blocked Keystone last month, saying the didn't have time for a thorough environmental review.

"I think we need to be clear. As much as I want to see that Keystone project proceed, I think this incident ... underscore(s) the fact that it is in this country's national interest to be able to sell products beyond the United States," Harper told Reuters in an interview.

"And I don't think a reversal of an American decision can change that fundamental reality. So I think it is absolutely essential that we find ways of being able to sell our products to the biggest growing markets in the world, and those are in Asia."

Canada - the largest supplier of energy to the United States - was profoundly disappointed by Washington's decision to veto TransCanada Corp's Keystone project. The United States - which is by far Canada's largest trading partner - is unlikely to look at it again until next year.

At 170 billion barrels, Canada's oil sands are the third-largest crude deposit in the world, and Canadian exports to bigger markets will be a focal point of Harper's meetings in China, where he will be accompanied by five cabinet ministers and the heads of major corporations seeking business.

China has already made clear it would like to import Canadian oil to help power its rapidly expanding economy.   Continued...