Alberta needs to access new markets
ALBERTA -- When it comes to moving its energy production to markets, the Canadian province of Alberta feels that it is caught between a rock and a hard place. “We can’t move greater amounts of crude southward, because the U.S. won’t approve the Keystone pipeline, and we can’t move greater amounts of crude and natural gas westward, through British Columbia, because the B.C. government refuses to approve new pipeline construction through their territory,” complained Paul Tsounis, director of Strategic Business Analysis & Forecasting in the Alberta provincial government.
“Thus, our increasing crude and natural gas production is landlocked,” continued Tsounis. “Access to new markets is essential.” He noted that Alberta has the lowest taxes in Canada, which, along with favorable geology, has helped to encourage greater hydrocarbon production. But crude is not the only problem---natural gas supplies are piling up, too. Our current gas production is 10.8 Bcfd,” said Tsounis. “Yet, due to greater shale gas output down in the U.S., our traditional export market to the U.S. has been greatly reduced. Our natural gas markets are under siege.” He also pointed out that Alberta’s crude oil market is limited to the U.S. Midwest, although there is great potential in the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Tsounis said that Alberta is taking what steps that it can to help itself. “We are doing pipeline reversals and constructing new pipelines where we can,” he said, “but this will take some time. We may even convert our main gas trunkline, which flows eastward, to carry oil instead of gas. In addition, the railroads are becoming increasingly helpful, carrying greater amounts of crude by rail, so that we can spread supplies. But the most helpful thing would be to open the roadblocks to the south and west.”