Skip to main content

Minister of Natural Resourcea Greg Rickford responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Nov. 19.

The Canadian Press

The falling price of oil and what to do about it, the Keystone XL pipeline, and Mexico's major oil and gas shakeup will be on the table as North American energy ministers meet Monday.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford is set to meet with his counterparts Ernest Moniz and Pedro Joaquin Coldwell from the U.S. and Mexico respectively in Washington, D.C.

The rapidly falling price of gas, exacerbated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) decision last month not to cut Middle-Eastern oil production, will overshadow the talks.

Story continues below advertisement

Already, there has been buzz around the idea of a North American-style energy cartel to counter OPEC— although that has not be explicitly raised by any of the players who refer instead to a "strategic dialogue on energy co-operation."

"This is a massive, fully integrated market in most respects, certainly with gas and electricity," Mr. Rickford told CTV's Question Period Sunday.

"Secretary Moniz and I have some key things to build on and enjoin our Mexican counterparts for that North American energy market integration that I think we all seek to strive for as matter of security and for the economic benefits."

One of Mr. Rickford's stated priorities is to emphasize that Keystone should go ahead, based on a U.S. State Department decision assessment from early this year. The pipeline has been tied up in the Nebraska Supreme Court, which is set to rule any day now on whether the legislature has the right to approve the pipeline's route.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has expressed reticence about the project, arguing it would mainly benefit Canada and could have negative effects for climate change.

But there is another wrinkle to the pipeline issue that Rickford will also be addressing during the talks.

The Mexican government is loosening its monopoly over the energy sector, and opening it to exploration and development by private industry. It kicked-off bidding on exploration in 14 locations on the Gulf of Mexico last week.

Story continues below advertisement

Some analysts, including the North-South Institute, have said the changes will bring both opportunity and possible challenges to the Canadian government.

On the positive side, a more open Mexican market will mean a demand for Canadian energy expertise in that country. Toronto-based Pacific Rubiales recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Mexico's PEMEX to look at exploration possibilities, particularly offshore.

But on the flip side, more oil and gas development by the most southerly NAFTA partner could mean more competition for the key American market — possibly making projects like Keystone even less attractive.

"Renewed interest in energy from its southern neighbour could thus shift the US's focus away from considering the shipping of Canadian heavy crude through the Keystone XL proposed pipeline," the North-South Institute wrote in a January policy brief.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter