The Keystone XL pipeline is unlikely to be revived, says a key U.S. senator, but Joe Manchin expects to see a greater push for more energy conduits between Canada and his country.
The Democratic senator for West Virginia intends to advance that discussion by getting Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to testify in Washington before the U.S. Senate committee on energy and natural resources, which Mr. Manchin chairs, about how much the U.S. relies on Canadian oil.
Mr. Manchin wrapped up a whirlwind Alberta energy tour with Mr. Kenney on Tuesday in Calgary. During his time in the province, the senator met with leaders in the critical minerals sector and energy company chief executives, and flew north to visit the oil sands.
Both the senator and Mr. Kenney said the heart of the visit was shoring up energy security in North America. They cited Russia’s war on Ukraine and the resulting global oil and gas crunch as proof that Canada and the U.S. need to co-operate more closely, and work together on a North American energy alliance.
“We have to be committed and resilient enough to be able to say, ‘We’re going to produce the energy that the world needs,’ ” Mr. Manchin told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
“The bottom line is, what do we do and how can we do it better?”
More than half of the oil the U.S. imports comes from Canada, but Mr. Manchin said the country needs to rely even more on its northern neighbour for energy supplies, rather than countries such as Venezuela or Iran.
For Mr. Kenney and Mr. Manchin, that also means a renewed focus on building new, cross-border oil and gas pipelines.
“The [Keystone] XL pipeline is something we should have never abandoned,” Mr. Manchin said. “Now we wish we had its 800,000 barrels of oil coming a day down into our refineries to make the products that all of us use in both countries.”
Keystone XL was designed to ship 830,000 barrels of crude a day along a 1,947-kilometre route from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb. Project owner TC Energy nixed the proposed pipeline last year after a 13-year regulatory odyssey that saw it blocked twice by former president Barack Obama, revived by his successor Donald Trump, then have its permit pulled once again by Joe Biden in one of his first official acts as U.S. President.
Its cancellation is a sore point for Mr. Manchin. It also rankles Mr. Kenney, whose provincial government sunk $1.5-billion into the project.
And while Mr. Manchin said he doesn’t know if another company will reinvest in the project and take up where TC left off – or if the U.S. administration would even entertain such a proposal – he said “it would be foolish not to.”
As Mr. Kenney and Mr. Manchin pledged to firm up ties between their respective jurisdictions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told media in Edmonton Tuesday that energy-focused conversations between Canada and the U.S. are continuing.
“For many, many years, we’ve made our position clear and strong with the American administration that Canada is a reliable energy partner, and needs to continue to be,” he said.
But Mr. Trudeau said that relitigating Keystone XL is solely a matter for the United States.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told The Globe and Mail in a recent interview that he has raised Keystone with U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm numerous times, including last month in Europe at an International Energy Agency summit. But he said she has given him no encouragement that the Biden administration is looking to revisit its decision on the pipeline’s fate.
“I have not gotten a sense from the Americans that that is something they are looking at doing now. That is subject to change, obviously, but that’s where it stands,” he said.
Mr. Manchin’s visit follows a long tradition of bringing senators and congressmen to tour the oil sands, says Gary Mar, president and CEO of Canada West Foundation, a think tank, and Alberta’s former official representative at the Canadian embassy in Washington.
“Senator Manchin is probably the most highly sought-after swing vote anywhere in the House or the U.S. Senate,” he said, and is an important voice to encourage the Biden administration to look north to meet its thirst for oil.
But Kristen van de Biezenbos, an associate professor of energy law at the University of Calgary, said billing Mr. Manchin’s visit as a North American energy-security conversation was a red herring.
“This isn’t Manchin and Kenney suddenly being the champions of national security for Canada and the United States,” she said.
“This is Kenney and Manchin being champions for carbon-based economies and using this as an opportunity to fit their pre-existing ambitions and political leanings with a new direction in the conversation.”
With a report from Kelly Cryderman
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.