Obama, Oil and Canada

America's dependence on oil is one of the most serious threats that our nation has faced. It bankrolls dictators, pays for nuclear proliferation and funds both sides of our struggle against terrorism. It puts the American people at the mercy of shifting gas prices, stifles innovation, and sets back our ability to compete.

Obama’s speech on energy (Solveclimate)

A short, punchy, powerful speech. Two things – First, Obama stresses again and again the necessity to reduce oil consumption and “the dependence on foreign oil”. He mentions wind, solar and efficiency as the three best ways to get there. There is no mention of increasing imports from Canada, the US’ largest supplier. Of course, when he mentions “bankrolling dictators”, Stephen Harper does come to mind 🙂 But the rest of it is puzzling, look at this bar chart of The US’ top 15.


Really, not too many “unfriendly” countries on the list, It is dominated by the US neighbours Canada and Mexico, and friend, ally and vassal state Saudi Arabia. Yes, there is some Venezuela, but this whole oil imports from unfriendly dictators frame in inaccurate.

But from the Canadian side of the border, we see things differently. >99% of oil exported from Canada goes to the US, so in essence, our only customer. Any reduction in demand from the US could seriously derail Alberta’s economy. On the other hand, if the US is willing to overlook the seriously dirty nature of Canada’s oil, not that Canadian NGOs haven’t mentioned it to Obama recently, it will not have any problems shifting its buying patterns to favour Canadian oil over Saudi Arabian/Venezuelan oil, at least in theory.

The US has not attempted to do anything that drastic in many years, so all oil is bought and sold in the world market and price rules, but it will be interesting to see what happens. My view is that any serious carbon legislation will undermine the oil sands’ dirty oil. But we shall see.

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