Canada will look to China to sell its oil, Mayor Bradley fighting for an in-Canada solution

On January 17, during his annual “State of the City” address, Mayor Mike Bradley brought attention to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline saying that delays could be good news and an opportunity for Sarnia and its local petrochemical industry.

“The city could be positioned for an upgrader plant if the proposed pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries falls through,” Bradley asserted.

“One of the alternatives if that project doesn’t go ahead is to look at keeping our resources in Canada, getting the extra value of the jobs here,” he further said during his speech at the Golden K Kiwanis Club.

Bradley contented that talks have been underway for the past 18 months and have included Sarnia-Lambton MP Pat Davidson.

The Keystone XL pipeline is stalled, and U.S. President Barack Obama has postponed a decision on whether the project is in that country’s national interest until 2013.

In a statement released by Harper’s office yesterday, Obama is quoted as saying that the decision was not a decision based on the “merits of the project” and that TransCanada, the company looking to build the pipeline, could reapply for permission after a new route had been developed.

The press release went on to say that Harper “…expressed his profound disappointment with the news. He indicated to Obama that he hoped that this project would continue given the significant contribution it would make to jobs and economic growth both in Canada and the United States of America.”

But imperatively, the statement also expressed that the prime minister reiterated to President Obama that Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports.

Meanwhile, Harper has said China is a possible alternative market for Canadian oil if Keystone XL is scrubbed.

In recent months, Harper has pushed more forcefully for the Northern Gateway pipeline project to get underway, calling it in the country’s “national interest” as it works to develop markets other than the United States for its crude oil exports.

But an in-Canada solution could be given consideration, said Bradley in his speech, noting recent talks about a Canadian national energy policy are encouraging.

“One of the big issues in the states is putting in a new pipeline,” he said. “We have the pipeline.”

An upgrading facility, like one Shell Canada considered and rejected for St. Clair Township in 2008, would create jobs and stabilize the local industrial base, he continued.

Mike Ireland, senior development consultant with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, is quoted as saying that officials have recently begun promoting Sarnia at oil sands events in Alberta.

—Joe Burd, joe@lambtonshield.com

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