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U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow toured one of Canada's oil sands projects and said he was impressed by the potential abundance of secure energy available from its northern neighbor.
Meeting Friday with his Canadian counterpart, Minister of Finance Ralph Goodale, Snow was making his first official visit to Canada, which is the leading foreign supplier of oil to the United States.
The two toured the oil sands facility of Suncor Energy Inc. near Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta. They met with executives from Suncor, Syncrude Canada Ltd., Albian Sands and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.
"We in the United States are looking to make ourselves more energy secure," Snow told reporters. "To have our closest ally, Canada, with these resources available, with a natural market in the United States, it's a huge contributor to energy security for North America."
Snow said he hadn't realized just how vast the oil sands facilities were, saying there was potentially more reserves in Canada than Saudi Arabia.
Canada is the largest supplier of crude and refined oil to the United States, having supplied 2.1 million barrels per day in 2004, according to the federal government. Canada provides 17 percent of U.S. oil imports and 10 percent of American oil consumption.
The fact that the Department of Energy wrongly decided to include Canada's oil sands in the official reserve figures might mislead many Americans to believe that the oil bonanza lying across the border would enable the U.S. to roll back its dependence on the Middle East. In truth, the exact opposite is happening. By 2025 the U.S. will import 68 percent of its oil and half of it will come from the Gulf. Will Canada's sand be able to compete with Saudi Arabia's low production costs? If not, Canada will de facto be left with a mere half a percent of world global reserves and like the U.S. will seek to buy its oil from sands elsewhere.
The Alberta government is committed to ensuring that Albertans continue to receive a fair share of resource revenue through royalties, taxes, bonuses and rental.
In 2003, energy industry investment totaled over $20 billion and supported over 300,000 direct and indirect energy sector jobs in addition to providing royalties of over $7.6 billion – the second highest total ever delivered to Albertans. This means almost one out of every three dollars invested by the province on infrastructure, health care, education, social services, and other programs come from natural resource royalties and fees.
A decade ago, the province's $22.7 billion debt worked out to $8,400 for every man, woman and child in Alberta. Based on strong revenue forecasts for 2004-05, that amount will now be zero.
Figures for Russia are “explored reserves,” which are understood to be proved plus some probable. All other figures are proved reserves recoverable with present technology and prices.