The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Canadian Oil Sands More Important Than Ever

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted December 8, 2010

The administration's decision to ban oil and natural gas development in the Atlantic, Pacific and the eastern Gulf of Mexico for the next seven years exacerbates an ongoing problem for the United States: Despite calls for energy independence, the nation could become more reliant on oil from other countries.

Fortunately, one of the world's foremost oil producing countries is right next door. In recent years, Canada has become the largest supplier of oil to the United States. An estimated 2 million barrels of Canadian oil comes over the U.S. border every day, and about half of it is derived from Canada's abundant oil sands.

cindy.jpg"Full oil sands development could double that," API's Cindy Schild told reporters today in a conference call. She added, "Every barrel imported from Canada could replace one from a less secure source, adding to our energy security and benefiting our economy."

Several studies have enumerated the benefits of oil sands development:

  • Cambridge Energy Research Associates (IHS CERA) projects Canada could provide about 40 percent of total U.S. imports in 2035.
  • The Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. says Canadian oil-sands oil can offset "drastic production declines" occurring in the Mexican and Venezuelan oil fields, which traditionally have been important suppliers to the United States.
  • A 2011 study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) found that U.S. jobs supported by Canadian oil sands development could grow from 21,000 jobs today to 465,000 jobs by 2035. The study also finds that for every two jobs created in Canada from oil sands development, one is created in the U.S.

john kerekes.jpgThousands of U.S. jobs already have been created to build the equipment used to produce oil from Canada's oil sands. "The jobs are largely in the Midwest," said John Kerekes, API's central region director. "Caterpillar in Peoria, Bucyrus Erie in Milwaukee, the Operating Engineers in Minnesota and hundreds of vendors with thousands of employees have benefited already." John added, "They know the nation needs the energy, and they know the Midwest needs the jobs and economic growth."

In early 2011, the U.S. State Department will decide whether to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring more oil-sands oil into the United States. Now that the administration has closed the east and west coasts and a large swath of the Gulf to oil production, the construction of the pipeline is more important than ever.

To explain the value of Canadian oil sands to jobs and the economy, API will launch an advertising campaign in January.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.