Canada’s Environment Minister doubled down on his stance that increasing Canadian oil and gas production and exports is not a solution to the energy crisis looming after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The solution is to stay away from fossil fuels,” says Steven Guilbeault Canadian National Observer. “That’s how we ended up reducing our dependence.”
His comments came after the United States announced a ban on imports of Russian oil, natural gas and coal in another attempt to strangle the economy and undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin’s powers.
The US move, which President Joe Biden has characterized as “another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” follows Canada’s announcement of a ban on Russian oil imports last week. Canada has not imported oil from Russia for several years; the ban is a symbolic gesture to pressure other countries to follow suit.
The US imports more than 600,000 barrels per day of Russian oil, accounting for only about eight percent of the total. “America has come together … to support the Ukrainian people and make it clear that we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” Biden said, also noting the US produces far more oil domestically than the rest of Europe combined, making it possible to lock down Russia. energy when European countries can’t.
“But we are working with Europe and our partners to develop long-term strategies to reduce their dependence on Russian energy as well,” Biden said. Europe relies on Russian oil for about a third of its supply.
The US move sparked a flurry of comments from politicians, pundits and at least one editorial board suggesting Canadian oil should come to the rescue in case of shortages in the US and Europe. “Hey America, look north,” suggested a Globe and Mail The editorial was titled, “The world needs more Canadian oil and gas.”
Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney has been selling off his province’s oil since Russia invaded Ukraine late last month, tweeting Thursday: “Alberta is ready, willing and able to be an important part of the solution to the global energy crisis.”
Not so, said Guilbeault. “The reality is, it’s not like oil in Canada is just waiting for this moment to happen and we’ve left all export capacity on the rail open for one day where this might happen,” he said. Canada doesn’t have much export capacity to move more oil to the US, and building that capacity, either by pipeline or rail, will take years. When it comes to Europe, that’s just as impossible—and undesirable.
“We have heard loud and clear from Europeans that fossil fuels are (not) the path to our climate goals. They are multiplying and they see this crisis as an opportunity to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Steven Guilbeault.
“We have heard loud and clear from Europeans that fossil fuels are (not) the path to our climate goals,” he said. “They are multiplying and they see this crisis as an opportunity to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Canada does not have the capacity to increase exports to European markets, and refineries on the other side of the Atlantic are not equipped to process heavy crude oil derived from Alberta’s tarsands. That capacity increase and refinery retrofitting would be expensive and long term, he said. “The need is short term.”
However, Canada can play a role in supporting Europe’s energy needs by, for example, sharing green technologies and supporting countries as they transition to renewable energy, he said.
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