Canada has a problem. We are blessed with a resource — oil — needed by people around the world but we’re selling 99 per cent of that resource to one customer, the United States. We’re selling it at a significant discount. We do this because it’s what the pipeline infrastructure in North America obliges us to do.
Expanding access for Canadian oil products to new markets, especially those with growing demand in Asia, is the clear solution. This is becoming increasingly important as we experience declining demand in the U.S. due to increased self-sufficiency in its market.
I have been an advocate in the past for a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific, allowing us to export our bitumen to these fast-growing markets in Asia. Canada’s economy loses billions of dollars every year simply because one of our most important strategic resources is in a captive market.
But many British Columbians — and many others across the country — have expressed deep concerns about a number of issues associated with building a pipeline and shipping unrefined bitumen off of Canada’s West Coast. They have convinced me there must be a better alternative.
That’s why I have joined Pacific Future Energy. The company’s mission is to build the greenest oil refinery in the world and protect Canada’s West Coast from the threat of a bitumen spill.
Building the world’s greenest refinery isn’t just good public policy, however. It’s also good business.
Many critics of building Canadian refineries see the world through the prism of multinational companies with global networks of refineries, shareholders, supply routes and investment priorities that are often beyond our borders. Their assertion that a new refinery in Canada can’t make a profit is simply not backed by economic realities.
Dozens of refineries in the U.S. Midwest — which are almost exclusively processing Canadian bitumen sent to them by pipelines — are generating an average profit of $23.50 per barrel by refining Canadian crude into products for sale in the U.S.
The economics of refining are so good, the one per cent of Canadian crude not sent to the U.S. last year was piped across the continent to the Gulf of Mexico, put on ships, carried across the Atlantic Ocean and delivered to Bilbao, Spain. There it was refined and sold on the European markets at a profit.
These are dollars and jobs that could and should be realized in Canada.
(Stockwell Day is a former minister of international trade, treasurer and acting premier of Alberta, and Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, and is now the chair of Pacific Future Energy’s advisory board, as well as a senior adviser to the company’s management team)