Oilsands Receive Modest U.S. Approval

Source:

"Security of supply concerns appears to be causing angst in Washington."

U.S. accepts oilsands

Something interesting has happened in the last week: The oilsands have received modest, if not backhanded, endorsements from the U.S. Department of Energy, Washington Post and the influential investment publication, Barron's.

Does this mean the environmental issues have been cast aside and that the oil itself isn't the issue but the amount consumed and what it is used for?

A question of dancing with the devil—in this case recognizing that to spurn the oilsands production would result in higher exports from other oil-producing countries.

A newfound fear that the possibility more crude will go offshore to Asia means the U.S. will no longer have first call on Alberta crude.

Or is it simply the manifestation of newfound pragmatism south of the border?

An analysis of the three reports suggests it's a bit of everything.

The DOE report released last week effectively said increased import capacity would help decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports from places like the Middle East and Africa.

Moreover, the combination of more crude coming from Canada combined with efforts to reduce overall consumption would further displace oil imported from overseas.

As talk increases of pipelines going from the oilsands to the west coast, rail companies already starting to ship barrels westward and Chinese companies taking positions in Alberta's oilsands, it seems there is a growing recognition that the development of new markets is not a pipe dream but something that is actively being pursued.

The other factor driving increased access to overseas markets by the Canadian oilpatch is the amount of money being left on the table as a result of insufficient shipping capacity beyond North America.

The concern over security of supply, the notion of oil going elsewhere appears to be causing a modest amount of angst in Washington.

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