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CALGARY – Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Thursday Canada would accelerate its East and West oil pipeline plans if Keystone XL is rejected by the United States administration.
However, he said he remains “cautiously optimistic” that President Barack Obama will approve the project, since most impediments have been removed. If a second rejection comes, Canada would accelerate its search for new oil markets, he said in an interview.
“We would have to focus even more on moving the oil west and east,” Mr. Oliver said. “Everything we are doing in terms of environmental protection, pipeline safety, aboriginal consultation, advocacy for Canada outside the country — all the things that we have a constitutional responsibility for —we would be doing more [to promote other pipeline options],” he said.
The only exception is to interfere with the regulatory process, which has already been reformed. A Keystone XL rejection would not be positive for the country, but it won’t mean a cooling of relations with the United States, he said.
Speaking to reporters in Calgary, Mr. Oliver said he doesn’t share Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s view that the loss of Keystone XL would damage ties between the two countries.
“My view is that, of course, this is a very important project for our country, and we think that it’s beneficial for both countries, and therefore we very much want to see it go ahead,” he said.
“We have made that clear to the U.S. Administration. However, we have the largest bilateral commercial relationship in the entire world, $1.8-billion of trade every day …. and we do not want anything to undermine that relationship.”
President Obama is expected to decide this summer whether to permit the project to carry oil from Alberta’s oil sands and U.S. tight oil fields to refineries in the U.S. Gulf.
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