December 16, 2010 / 7:29 PM / in 7 years

Western provinces seek Asia energy exports

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada’s three westernmost provinces agreed on Thursday to work to improve access to Asian markets for oil and gas producers and to work on streamlining regulations for the energy industry.

British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, home to the bulk of Canada’s oil and gas industry, said they will look to drum up new markets outside of the United States, which now receives almost all of the country’s energy exports.

“We can seek new markets. We can work with industry to figure out how we can get our product to more than one customer,” Ron Liepert, Alberta’s energy minister, told reporters.

There’s currently little access to Asian markets for Canadian oil and gas but two projects are in the works to boost export capacity to overseas markets.

Enbridge Inc, Canada’s No. 2 pipeline company, is backing the C$5.5 billion ($5.45 billion) Northern Gateway pipeline that would take Alberta oil sands crude to a tanker port at Kitimat at the northern end of British Columbia’s Pacific coast.

As well, Apache Corp wants to build a liquefied natural gas export facility near Kitimat that would export as much as 10 million tonnes of LNG per year.

Both projects are in the early stages of seeking regulatory approval.

The three provinces said they will also work to cut regulations that hinder interprovincial operations for oil and gas companies.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Peter Galloway

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