Alberta's oilsands crude shouldn't be singled out in EU vote, Alberta environment minister says

Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Diana McQueen



EDMONTON -- Alberta's oilsands crude may be outstanding, but it shouldn't be singled out in a looming European Union vote. That's the message Environment Minister Diana McQueen took to six European capitals on behalf of Alberta.

"When you look at a basket of crudes that are used around the world and specifically in the European Union and then what the oilsands crude is, then the Fuel Quality Directive was looking at was taking the oilsands crude out of that basket and then putting a higher value on those crudes," McQueen said.

"About 80% of the crudes that are coming into the European states is from jurisdictions that are not reporting, that are not monitoring and certainly not as transparent in reporting and so what we have said is keep all crudes in the same basket, don't discriminate against oilsands crudes. Evaluate them fairly, but by the science and by the monitoring that is happening," McQueen said, citing jurisdictions like Russia, where venting or flaring are allowed.

A European vote is expected by June, so it's critical for Alberta to get the message out, McQueen said.

"We actually support the science. We know that Alberta crude will stand up. We're not asking for special treatment, we're asking to it all be on a level playing field," McQueen said.

Europe currently imports relatively little Alberta bitumen, but a negative vote on the FQD would hurt, McQueen said.

Alberta's already feeling picked on. Since October, the gap differential between Alberta bitumen and other sources of crude has cost the province $6 billion, prompting cuts and chatter about tax increases.

McQueen has met with 34 ministries, directors and Canadian diplomats in Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon, Paris and Brussels, even as Cal Dallas, minister of international and intergovernmental relations met key stakeholders in Dublin, Bucharest, Munich, Budapest and Rome.

McQueen said she was met with interest in Alberta's monitoring advances as the first North American jurisdiction to require action by all large industry to reduce emissions, purchase offsets or pay into a clean energy technology fund to then be use for research.

"They were very supportive of the fact that what we're asking for sounds very fair and we don't want to be treated differently," she said.

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