Politics
Crucial year for Canadian crude: Oliver

Canada's Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver.

Credits: REUTERS

QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA - Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver predicts this year will be critical for Canada's energy industry.

"I think this year will be a pivotal year in terms of the decisions with respect to the building of the infrastructure of pipelines," Oliver told QMI Agency.

A key decision this year will be whether U.S. Secretary of Sate John Kerry will approve the full Keystone XL pipeline to connect the oilsands in Alberta to Texas refineries.

Also, the National Energy Board has until the end of 2013 to deliver its recommendation on whether to approve the Northern Gateway proposal to bring oilsands crude to a B.C. tanker port for export to Asia.

Others want to reverse pipeline flow to get Alberta crude to Montreal refineries, while New Brunswick Premier David Alward has said he'd like to see Alberta oil refined in and exported from his province.

The proposals pique Oliver's interest.

"We're supportive in principle of pipelines going south, west, east and possibly north," he said.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said he too likes the idea of pipelines bringing crude east, but insists the government has "completely removed any credibility" from the regulatory review process.

"That's the number one problem the Conservatives face," Mulcair said.

He also said he believes diluted bitumen would "wear through" older pipelines carrying the oilsands product eastward.

Oliver dismissed Mulcair's worries.

"We've done studies over the years," he said. "Diluted bitumen ... is not more corrosive than crude oil."

The minister also insists Canadian environmental laws are "world class."

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