EnergyFactor By ExxonMobil | Pespectives has a new home

Understanding the importance of Canadian energy

Last week, ExxonMobil Senior Vice President Andrew Swiger spoke in Montreal at the World Energy Congress on “policies needed for the oil sector to continue development of new resources in a safe and sustainable way.” Andy’s comments focused on oil sands development and the significance of Canadian energy in meeting future demand.

Canadian oil sands already contribute significantly to a secure North American energy supply, and they will become even more important in the future. As Andy pointed out, roughly 13 percent of the world’s known oil reserves are contained within oil sands, and Canada holds the largest resources in the world. The U.S. currently provides the largest market for Canadian oil, which made up about 20 percent of U.S. oil imports in 2008. And let’s not forget jobs. Development of Canadian oil sands will actually mean more U.S. jobs through both direct and indirect employment opportunities. According to a study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute, as oil sands production increases, an “estimated 343 thousand new U.S. jobs” will be created between 2011 and 2015.

In realizing all of these benefits, we must maintain a strong balance between development and protection of the environment. IHS CERA noted in its recent report, “The Role of Canadian Oil Sands in U.S. Oil Supply,” that “[e]nergy security does not need to be at odds with the environment. Innovation in oil sands has been a constant theme. Since its inception, the industry has made and continues to make major technological strides in optimizing resources, innovating new processes, reducing costs, increasing efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing its environmental impact.” In other words, the future is bright for oil sands development. Our Kearl project and Imperial Oil’s Cold Lake operations in Alberta are clear examples that demonstrate the ability to expand energy supplies while ensuring that Canadian resources are developed in ways that minimize environmental impact.

Some might recall when President Obama reaffirmed the strong U.S.-Canadian relationship last February: “As neighbors, we are so closely linked that sometimes we may have a tendency to take our relationship for granted, but the very success of our friendship throughout history demands that we renew and deepen our cooperation here in the 21st century.”

With the president’s statement in mind, the future of the American economy and jobs at stake, and the continuing innovation in the field, one has to ask – can we afford to exclude Canadian energy from our supplies, as some in the U.S. propose to do? After all, policies that restrict the use or supply of Canadian oil, such as Section 526 of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, low-carbon fuel standards, and opposition to new pipelines, will only threaten domestic energy supply, restrict economic growth, and stifle future energy research.

Canada is already a close strategic ally and trading partner, as well as a significant energy producer. Should Americans continue to count on Canada’s energy to help meet our needs? I’d be interested in your views.

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