FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. -- After about a year of negotiations, it's hoped a visit from New Brunswick's premier will help a proposal for a pipeline between Alberta and eastern Canada.

Premier David Alward arrived in Alberta Sunday for his three-day visit and headed north Monday to tour Alberta's oilsands.

The visit comes after year-long talks on proposals to bring Alberta oil east in an effort to make the resource available to more markets outside of the United States.

Recent news on the subject has revolved around the largest refinery in Canada, the Irving Refinery in St. John, N.B., which would allow Alberta oil to be processed before it's sent overseas.

"We're looking to demonstrate why we think it makes great sense for Alberta crude to be able to be supplied right across the country, including Saint John,'' Alward said Sunday night.

He also talked about the financial problems facing Alberta, and how transporting the product to his province could help landlocked Alberta deal with the "bitumen bubble.''

"Right now Alberta is not getting full value for their resource,'' Alward said. "That means every Canadian is not getting full value for the resource.

"(In order) to diversify the markets, we think New Brunswick can and needs to be part of the solution.''

The Irving Refinery processes 300,000 barrels of oil each day, but it's not working at full capacity -- it's believed it could handle up to 1,000,000 barrels each day.

The plan is in the very early stages, and must still go through the regulatory process, a process that has already begun in another high-profile pipeline proposal, the Northern Gateway Pipeline.

However, the east-bound project is expected to garner less opposition than the pipeline through British Columbia, which is still the subject of a number of protests and environmental groups petitioning against it.

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