Two critical milestones were reached last month to diversify markets for Canada's valuable oil resources the National Energy Board's joint review panel decision on the Northern Gateway oil pipeline across B.C., and the submission to the NEB of Trans Mountain's regulatory application to expand its existing B.C. oil pipeline.
Both projects will be needed to move Canadian oil to foreign markets. And both milestones are good news for the oil industry, B.C. and all Canadians.
While much work remains to be done, the Northern Gateway report comes after two years of study and states this project is in the public interest. The 209 conditions imposed on the project provide a pathway to success.
For Trans Mountain, submitting its application to the NEB launches the regulatory process. Trans Mountain's existing pipeline has provided needed energy to North Americans safely and securely for almost 60 years.
Ultimately, the federal government will review the reports and make the final decisions.
The Northern Gateway decision, combined with Doug Eyford's recent report pertaining to First Nations and energy infrastructure projects, and reports on marine safety from the government of B.C. and Transport Canada, provides a solid foundation to advance policy and other solutions with respect to safety, environmental protection, and aboriginal consultation.
Now it's up to governments to work with industry, First Nations and stakeholders to determine the specific integrated measures that will ensure West Coast market access.
Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain will strengthen Canada's ability to receive maximum value for its natural resources by connecting responsible, secure oil suppliers and energy consumers.
The International Energy Agency and other respected, independent forecasters predict increasing demand for energy much of which will be met by oil. In addition to the expected growth of renewable energy sources, the world will need all sources to meet demand. Looking out to 2035, the IEA says hydrocarbons will continue to meet about 75 per cent of energy requirements.
Virtually all Canadian oil exports currently go to the United States and it is important for sellers to have access to more than one market. Given current and projected oil production growth in Canada, we need more access to existing markets and to growing new markets in Asia through pipelines to the West Coast.
Responsible development and operation of oil sands, pipelines, terminals and marine tankers represent thousands of skilled jobs and billions of dollars of potential investment that benefit all Canadians. Last year alone, more than 373 B.C.-based organizations provided goods and services to support oil development, and in the process, generated nearly $1 billion in economic growth for the province.
Pipelines have been used to move oil to markets for more than 45 years. All oils must meet strict specifications and companies must abide by stringent safety and environmental rules.
Oil and natural gas producers expect all transportation providers to deliver safe, responsible services and we expect governments to set world-class standards. We know Canadians will only accept additional infrastructure and tankers if it is demonstrated to be safe and has the necessary regulatory prevention and oversight.
More access to existing and new oil markets, a world-class spill prevention and response system, and improved relationships with aboriginal peoples will enrich Canada through increased energy trade while protecting people and the environment.
The NEB decision on Northern Gateway has opened the door for much-needed market diversity there's still work to do to achieve it.