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Canada sharpens focus on Asia for energy exports


canada's energy-rich province of alberta may look across the pacific ocean in the hunt for new markets after us president joe biden revoked a permit for an expansion of the keystone pipeline network that funnels oil across the border.

the country's energy producers could turn to asia as a market for its oil and liquefied natural gas, or lng, industry sources say.

canada's government-owned trans mountain pipeline-which carries crude and refined oil from alberta to the british columbia coast-could be a beneficiary after the halt to keystone xl, the ill-fated extension that had been proposed for the keystone system.

prime minister justin trudeau, in his first phone call with biden on friday, expressed disappointment over the cancellation, which the us president ordered last week.

alberta premier jason kenney last week criticized the decision to block the $8 billion extension to the cross-border energy network and called on ottawa to impose economic sanctions on the us if it does not discuss the project.

however, a survey released on tuesday by pollster angus reid found that 59 percent of canadians believe it's time to move on from keystone xl.

twenty-two percent of a c$12.6 billion ($9.9 billion) extension to the trans mountain pipeline has been completed and the project is scheduled to go into service in december 2022. that's despite the pipeline having faced determined opposition from environmental campaigners concerned about tanker traffic, oil spills and climate change.

strategic importance

a government source said canada embarked on the pipeline extension for its strategic importance. its pacific ocean connection enables shippers to move oil to asia, in addition to the united states, which buys most of canada's crude oil.

"if the americans don't want us, then let's ramp up our exports to other countries, like china," said dan mcteague, president of canadians for affordable energy.

in the thick of a trade dispute with the united states in 2018, the trudeau government opted to invest in the extension, which will more than double the oil canada can send to the west coast-and then on to new markets in asia. by building the project, canada will be able to sell oil outside north america at higher prices.

according to data supplied to business in vancouver by statistics canada, 7.5 million barrels of alberta crude worth $539 million were shipped to asia via the pipeline's westridge marine terminal in 2018. more than $1 billion of alberta crude was exported by oil tankers via vancouver that year, with china accounting for about a third of the sales.

lng is another key energy export for canada. a $40 billion plant under construction in northern british columbia has drawn investment from shell, petronas of malaysia and petrochina, among other investors in the facility.

"lng will be helped by a planned facility with a chinese partner," graham shantz, president of the canada china business council, told china daily at the fortune global forum in toronto in october 2018.

"it's a brand-new export category from canada to china," shantz said at the time.

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