Increasing crude oil supplies from Canada's oil sands will help meet a growing global demand for energy, but the oil sands do not create demand for energy.
Contrary to a recent Stockholm Environment Institute report released in August 2014, the most recent World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates growing world populations and standards of living are the primary drivers for increasing global energy demands, not pipeline capacity.
Non-OECD countries such as China and India lead the growth in energy demand and energy use rises with improved living standards. In addition to the IEA, all credible third-party energy outlooks indicate oil will remain the fuel of choice for transportation.
As the middle-class population grows across the globe, demand for energy is forecast to increase by 33 per cent over the next two decades. The renewable energy supply also will increase but not in quantities sufficient to meet the rise in overall energy demand. Oil and gas will remain the primary source for the foreseeable future, providing 45 per cent of world's energy needs in 2035.
Given these facts, oil sands producers believe the responsible development of Alberta's oil sands is important to meeting both domestic and international energy demand for many decades. Increasing oil production from the oil sands will bring Canada and North America closer to achieving energy self-sufficiency. Transporting this oil via pipeline to Eastern Canada will displace current imports to Canada of about 700,000 barrels per day. The U.S. imports about 4.6 million barrels a day from countries other than Canada. Increasing transportation capacity to the U.S. from Alberta would displace that product, allowing it to be sent to other markets in the developing world.
As long as the world is using oil, refiners and consumers have a choice of source countries to meet consumer demand. Canada's oil sands production occurs under responsible regulations, including carbon mitigation measures and prices on corporate producers. It is one of the most responsible and safest crude oil choices in the market.
Even the Stockholm Environment Institute report confirms that as oil sands crude displaces other oil supplies, the increased production does not increase global GHG production.
A variety of strategies are needed to meet our long-term energy needs, including improved energy efficiency to offset demand growth, which has the potential to play a large role. For example, despite population growth in North America, oil demand is almost flat. That's an energy efficiency success story. Industry, not-for-profit organizations and governments must continue to do more to educate consumers about efficient energy use.
Energy is precious. Let's use it wisely.
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