Canada’s natural resources minister said his government is committed to seeing the Keystone XL Pipeline become a reality, and rebuked a possible effort by European officials to target the country’s oilsands by labeling it as a dirtier form of energy.

Joe Oliver — who spoke with reporters after speaking at the United States Energy Association’s Annual Energy Supply Forum in Washington, DC — also said the government was looking for ways to address greenhouse gas (GHG) concerns raised in a report by the environmental ministry.

The European Commission, a branch of the government of the European Union, has reportedly approved placing a higher carbon emissions value on bitumen-derived fuels — which would include oil from the oilsands — than conventional oil.

“We don’t want to see the oilsands stigmatized,” Oliver said. “These discussions should be based on science and economics. We have no problem with the fuel standards in principle, so long as the oilsands are treated like other types of oil, or even heavy oil for that matter.

“[Fuels] need to be regulated on the basis of the actual emissions, and not put into a separate category for no apparent reason. We don’t think that would be fair or appropriate, and we’ve made that case in Europe.”

Oliver lauded the 2011 report by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD), which was tabled in the Canadian Parliament. In that report, the CESD said it was concerned that developing the nation’s oilsands would hamper its commitment to reduce GHGs by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. Ottawa plans to implement a GHG monitoring system in Alberta to help allay those fears.

“We’re pleased to get any input from an independent source,” Oliver said. “We are proceeding with the development of the oilsands in a responsible way.”

Oliver also said he was confident that the Keystone XL Pipeline project would ultimately be approved by Canadian and American regulators, but said the Northern Gateway Pipeline (NGP) — which would transport oil from the oilsands to Kitimat, BC, for eventual shipment by tanker to Asia — could also help Canada realize its strategic goals on energy (see NGI, July 4).

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