Selling Americans on the oil sands

The Alberta government wants to make sure that American states are studying the adoption of low-carbon fuel standards.

Veronqiue de Viguerie/Getty Images

Gary Mar, Alberta’s envoy in Washington, is telling American lawmakers the BP oil spill could result in more Alberta oil coming stateside. The reason is that the six-month moratorium on new deep-sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that President Barack Obama announced last month will likely translate into a longer interruption. Rigs will not sit idle in the Gulf, says Mar, but will move elsewhere to drill. Getting them back will take time–perhaps a year or more. In the meantime, Gulf area refineries will need to get their feedstock from somewhere.

Meanwhile, with its eye firmly on the U.S. market, which now absorbs one million barrels per day of oil sands production, the Alberta government wants to make sure that American states that are studying the adoption of a low-carbon fuel standard will not follow in the footsteps of California and design one that Alberta considers discriminatory. “We don’t object to a low-carbon fuel standard but want to make sure it doesn’t get written in a way that discriminates against oil-sands-derived transportation fuels,” Mar told Maclean’s. To that end, Mar and Alberta’s environment minister, Rob Renner, travelled to Boston this week to press their case at an energy forum of eight northeast states, and met with governors’ staffs and lawmakers in Harrisburg, Penn., and Trenton, N.J., to make the case that the oil sands are subject to “stringent” regulations in Canada.

Meanwhile, there was more Canadian energy promotion in Washington on Tuesday when Robert McLeod, minister of industry, tourism and investment for the government of the Northwest Territories, gave a speech on “The Role of Arctic Gas in North America’s Transition to a Cleaner Energy Future.”