11/17/2012 04:05 EST | Updated 01/16/2013 05:12 EST

Alberta Oil Welcome In Eastern Canada, Halifax MP Geoff Regan Says

FILE - This Sept. 19, 2011 file photo shows an aerial view of a tar sands mine facility near Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Canada. Alberta has the world's third-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela - more than 170 billion barrels. Daily production of 1.5 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to increase to 3.7 million in 2025, which the oil industry sees as a pressing reason to build the pipelines. A European Union committee failed Thursday Feb. 23, 2012 to reach a definite decision on labeling oil derived from oil sands as worse for climate change than crude oil _ a proposal vigorously opposed by officials in Canada, where such oil is produced. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh, File)
FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - A Liberal MP from Nova Scotia has paid a visit to the oilsands, saying that Alberta may be having struggles in accessing foreign markets but the province's crude is always welcome in the East.

Halifax West MP Geoff Regan says environmental concerns appear to be stalling approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to Texas and the Northern Gateway pipeline which would ship through B.C. for export to Asian countries.

But Regan says the struggling economies of the Atlantic provinces would be encouraged by the notion of bringing Canadian oil eastward, where residents rely on Middle Eastern imports.

Calgary's TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) is studying the possibility of shipping as many as one million barrels a day of western crude to eastern refineries.

To do so, it would convert part of its natural gas mainline partly to oil service. CEO Russ Girling has called the project both technically and economically feasible.

Company officials have also said they don't expect to see a big environmental pushback because eastern Canadians are keenly aware of how such a plan would positively affect fuel prices where they live.

Regan also says competitive wages in the oilsands could put pressure on companies back east, such as Irving, to offer a bigger paycheque for skilled workers.

"The tradespeople will be saying, `do I want to go home and work for $10 an hour less plus take a haircut on my benefits?' " said Regan.

"I think they're going to have to be competitive. Some people will want to stay home but still, when the opportunities still exist out here I think they're real and that's something that will have to factor in."

Regan also said there's a national benefit in terms of security of the oil supply.

"I think there is a strong interest in Atlantic Canada and in Eastern Canada generally in the idea of having access to Canadian oil," he said.

"The fact of the matter is that if there's a connection to the East coast, one of the important benefits of that for Alberta and for the oilsands is that you get the international price."


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