Albertan Energy Minister strikes deal with China but Korea might move on by Felix von Geyer

Alberta signed a legally non-binding Moratorium of Understanding with Beijing on Friday, Albertan Energy Minister Ken Hughes told reporters via a telephone press conference, although the relationship with Korea looks more uncertain.

The MOU provides Alberta with “highly unusual access” at Chinese policy level including sharing knowledge on best practice, other technology knowledge-sharing including on carbon capture and storage, said Hughes who signed the MOU in the presence of China’s President Xi Xinping and Canada’s Governor-General David Johnston.

Hughes who had toured both South Korea and China during this visit told New Orator that China was particularly interested in Canada’s natural resources, particularly its natural gas that provided a cleaner energy option than the coal which helped create poor air quality over many areas in China through the resulting smog. Despite the new MOU, Hughes stated that it was “Too early days” to suggest any forthcoming synergy between China and Canada in combatting climate change through any shared action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

On the question of Korea’s position on using Canada as an energy provider, Hughes admitted that Korea had indicated it had “many other choices and will move on” if it cannot see Canada putting its relevant infrastructure in place. In Wednesday’s Throne Speech, federal Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that Ottawa was keen to work with provinces such as Ontario and BC and other willing jurisdictions to establish co-operation, especially around natural resources.

In his Throne Speech, Harper stressed that Canada’s energy reserves are “vast… but we must be able to sell them,” he said, stressing the country’s infrastructure shortages at a time when there was “unprecedented demand” for its energy resources.

Hughes stated that he had been on tour with the Deputy Premier of British Columbia, Rick Coleman, and that both provinces were “completely aligned” in their need to get their products to market. British Columbia is keen to sell its LNG to South-East Asia while Alberta’s oil sands is facing a continuing struggle to have both its Keystone XL pipeline to the US sanctioned by the US government as well as a pipeline such as the Northern Gateway stretching over to the West Coast.

Addressing the fact that a combination of the US shale oil and gas boom had reduced demand for Canadian energy as much as there is doubt as to any imminent green light for the Keystone pipeline, Hughes said: “We need to get our products to somewhere other than the United States of America.”


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