It is for the United States to decide whether new pipeline capacity to increase crude oil imports from Canada is in its national interest. However, as Canadian crude oil producers and growing suppliers of crude oil to the U.S., we have a perspective that we would like to contribute to the dialogue regarding oil sands supply and the upcoming Keystone XL pipeline national interest determination.
Canada is already the largest supplier of crude oil to the United States. We will provide more oil in the future, much of it from growing oil sands production. This will create jobs in both countries and replace imports into the U.S. from less reliable sources.
On its merits - security and reliability of supply, replacing declining imports from Venezuela and Mexico with a similar product (including characteristics pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions and pipeline integrity), creating thousands of jobs in both countries, and world-class Canadian environmental and social policy and regulations already in place - this is the right oil, from the right country.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline significantly enhances energy security on the North American continent and builds on the already strong Canada-United States energy trading relationship. This is particularly important in light of the recent events in North Africa and the Middle East, and the rising demand for energy resources from emerging markets in Asia.
Each day in the U.S., more than 200,000 miles of pipelines move oil and other energy products safely to markets where they are needed. Pipelines are among the safest and most reliable methods of delivering energy to markets. Oil sands-based crude oil poses no greater risk to pipeline integrity than any other crude oil transported in the United States, according to Crude Quality Inc., an independent crude oil quality expert. It also poses no greater risk to the Ogallala aquifer, according to the same experts.
A recent poll shows Americans strongly prefer oil from Canada rather than other supply sources such as countries in the Middle East. The poll indicates a vast majority of Americans believe U.S. government policies should support the use of oil from Canada's oil sands.
Some 80 per cent of respondents gave Canada good marks on human rights, environmental protection, democracy and providing U.S. jobs - more than 290,000 jobs from oil sands development by 2025, according to a recent study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.
And Canada already supplies more oil to the U.S. than any other country. In 2010, imports were two million barrels per day (22 per cent of total U.S. crude oil imports) including just over one million barrels per day from Canada's oil sands.
The Canadian oil sands industry is focused on energy security and reliability, economic growth and environmental performance. Our goal is to ensure the oil sands are developed responsibly, through continuous improvement in environmental and social performance. We recognize the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per barrel - we have demonstrated that performance through reductions of about 30 per cent since 1990. Our overall objective is to perform as well or better than competing global oil supplies.
Importantly, of the top five suppliers of oil to the U.S., only Canada has greenhouse gas regulations in place. The other major suppliers - Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela - do not impose such regulations.
The Alberta government implemented GHG regulations in 2007 and Alberta's carbon price is similar to the European price.
Other environmental performance successes include increased recycled or non-potable water use, reduced surface disturbance and new, game-changing reclamation technology. And these performance improvements are ongoing through the development and implementation of innovative technology.
Canadians share many values with Americans. We care about the environment and we work hard to lessen the environmental impact of oil and gas development in our country. We care about democracy, freedom of speech and transparency.
Geography makes us neighbours. Social, economic and political ties make us strong allies. Nowhere is this more evident than in our energy trading relationship. We have the opportunity to grow our energy trade through increased oil sands supply and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. We should seize that opportunity, to the benefit of both our countries.
Dave Collyer is president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the trade association representing the Canadian upstream oil and gas sector. Its member companies are responsible for over 90 per cent of Canada's crude oil and natural gas production.