EDMONTON—Canada is currently the most vulnerable country in the industrial world to short-term oil supply crises, and we need to establish strategic petroleum reserves to remedy the problem. This is the key finding of a report released today by Alberta’s Parkland Institute in conjunction with the Polaris Institute.
Freezing in the Dark: Why Canada Needs Strategic Petroleum Reserves points out the precariousness of current global oil supplies, especially given current tensions in the Middle East, and fact that Canada imports close to 1 million barrels of oil per day to supply the needs of central and eastern provinces.
“We are virtually the only country in the industrial world without strategic petroleum reserves,” says Gordon Laxer, a political economist at the U of A and author of the report. “The combination of our energy commitments under NAFTA and the north-south flow of our pipelines virtually guarantees that Eastern Canada will face shortages during global supply shocks—this puts Canadians at risk.”
Canada imports 40% of the oil it uses, with almost half of that coming from OPEC countries. This makes Canada very susceptible on a volatile region for a significant portion of its oil supply. And there are simply no pipelines or infrastructure in place to get Alberta oil to Eastern Canada in case of a crisis.
“The sad reality is that our government continues to prioritize the energy security of the United States despite the needs of Canadians,” says Polaris Institute Director Tony Clarke.
Ricardo Acuña, Executive Director of Parkland Institute, points out that “Albertans will argue that there is enough oil in the tarsands to supply for all of Canada’s needs well into the future, but unfortunately people in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces do not have access to that oil—it all flows south.”
Beyond making the case for strategic petroleum reserves, the report goes into detail about what function they would serve, what they would look like, and where they could be located.
This study represents one part of the ongoing work being done by both Parkland and Polaris to develop a Canadian energy security strategy which will meet the environmental, economic and energy needs of Canadians over the long term.
Copies of the report are available on the web at www.ualberta.ca/parkland or can be requested by phone at (780) 492-8558.
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