If Canada wants to lock in China and other countries as energy customers, we need to be quick about it. Other energy-producing countries, like Australia, Russia, Indonesia and, even possibly, the US, will soon have the infrastructure to attract the biggest Asian customers.

In our March 2014 issue, we explained that the United States (US), Canada’s only oil and natural gas customer, is expected to become energy self-sufficient by 2020. That poses a great challenge for Canada. In order to keep selling our abundant energy – and to keep benefitting from the revenue generated from those sales – Canada needs more oil and natural gas customers.

The problem is, other customers are much farther away. The biggest potential markets, for example, are in Asia: China, India and Japan. It is estimated that Asian oil imports will rise 207% over the next 30 years and natural gas imports will increase by 201% by 2035 (Source: Canadian Chamber of Commerce: $50 Million a Day).

The potential to sell oil and natural gas to China is huge. By next year, China will be the world’s largest energy importer.

To be able to access vast and growing markets like these, Canada needs to expand our pipeline, rail and liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure. Without that, we can’t get the oil and natural gas from where it’s produced to where it can be shipped to overseas customers.

To address that need, there are currently a number of proposed pipeline, LNG and related projects at various stages of review. Here are a just a few of them:

  • Keystone XL would connect Alberta’s oil to refineries and export facilities in Texas.
  • Energy East would send oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to marine terminals in Québec City, QC and Saint John, NB.
  • Northern Gateway would transport oil from Alberta to Kitimat, BC where it could be tanked overseas.
  • Prince Rupert LNG would deliver natural gas from northeast BC to Pacific Rim markets, via Prince Rupert, BC. LNG Canada would do the same in Kitimat, BC.
  • Goldboro LNG would deliver natural gas from Goldboro, NS to European and other markets.

Projects such as these are regularly held up because of concerns about the safety and reliability of pipelines, tankers and other energy transportation infrastructure. The fact is, Canada has an exemplary record in this area. For instance, from 2002 to 2011, Canadian pipelines safely transported 1.5 trillion litres of oil with a 99.999% success rate (Source: Canadian Energy Pipelines Association).

Without these types of projects, Canada’s oil and natural gas resources will remain landlocked, available only to a country that will soon have no need to buy them.

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