April 1, 2016 / 6:37 PM / in 4 years

Canada's Alberta to fly oil via airships, it says on April Fools

Rachel Notley (L) waves to the crowd while riding a horse during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Alberta, July 3, 2015. REUTERS/Todd Korol

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s oil-producing province of Alberta, stymied by the U.S. decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline and by other market access problems, said on Friday it will use zeppelins to bring its products to markets around the world.

Alberta’s left-leaning New Democrat government used April Fools’ Day to solve the problem of getting bitumen, oil and natural gas from the land-locked province without going through the long consultations and reviews that have frustrated its oil industry.

In the same statement, Premier Rachel Notley said airships are both “safe and environmentally friendly.”

“Airship technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since the Hindenburg,” she added, referencing the 1937 airship disaster that killed 36 people.

The premier’s office confirmed the project is an April Fools’ Day joke.

The provincial government said half of the 200 balloons for the airships will be made in Alberta, a stipulation that will “kickstart a nascent aerospace industry.”

“The first shipments to refineries in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to land in foreign markets by April 1, 2017,” the Alberta government said.

The province’s previously booming economy has been hard hit by the global crude price slump, with companies slashing billions of dollars in capital spending and laying off tens of thousands of workers.

President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline project to the United States last year. The fate of the company’s Energy East project, to the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, awaits a National Energy Board’s review.

Reporting by Ethan Lou; Editing by Alistair Bell

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