Poilievre pledges to ban oil from ‘dirty dictatorships’, doubles production in Newfoundland

Conservative Party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre promised on Friday that a government led by him would take a tough line on what he calls “dirty dictatorships” by drastically reducing imports of foreign oil from countries such as Saudi Arabia while increasing Canadian production to make up the shortfall.

Oil imports have moved to the top of the political agenda since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine last month. In response to this violent incursion, many Western democracies signaled that they would boycott Russian energy products to cut off a crucial source of foreign currency for Putin and his regime.

Canada has already enacted a ban on Russian oil and other petroleum products. Poilievre wants to go further by widening the net to ban oil imports from ‘dictatorships that fail to meet our environmental standards or violate human rights’ within five years of taking office, according to a briefing paper sent to CBC News by his campaign team. .

A spokesperson for Poilievre said the ban would block imports from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, among others, if necessary.

Despite sitting on one of the largest proven oil reserves in the world, Canada imports billions of dollars worth of oil from foreign countries each year to fuel refineries in the East – a symptom of the limited capacity of east-west pipelines which makes transporting crude oil from Alberta to eastern Canada a challenge.

Most of this imported oil comes from the United States, although Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Norway, Russia and the United Kingdom have also been major suppliers in recent years. In 2020, Saudi Arabia delivered approximately 73,600 barrels of oil a day in this country.

Currently, refineries in Atlantic Canada do not have access to crude oil by pipeline, making them dependent on these imports. The Irving-owned refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, is particularly dependent on non-US foreign oil, according to data from the Canada Energy Regulator.

Early in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first term, an attempt by pipeline giant TC Energy to repurpose an existing natural gas pipeline to deliver Alberta crude oil to East Coast refiners was scrapped due to the regulatory uncertainty and opposition from some Quebec politicians. The failure of the project has since been the target of criticism from the conservatives.

“Justin Trudeau supports oil – as long as it’s foreign oil. Every time he kills a Canadian energy project, foreign dictators like Putin do a victory dance because they dominate the global market,” Poilievre said Friday.

“Buying oil abroad from polluting dictatorships is terrible for our environment. It exports our jobs, money and pollution to countries with poor ecological standards. Instead, let’s bring back jobs, money and business to the most environmentally friendly energy sector in the world right here in Canada.

Pierre Poilievre speaks at a press conference at Brandt Tractor Ltd. in Regina, Sask. in March 2022. Poilievre said a government led by him would drop Bill C-69, the 2019 overhaul of federal environmental assessment law. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

Poilievre said today he would do everything he can to revive this east-west pipeline project, which was called Energy East when it was first pitched by TC. He also promised to study the use of new rail lines to bring western oil to eastern markets. In the absence of new crude oil pipelines, there has been an explosive growth in oil shipments by rail in North America over the past decade.

For the past five years, Conservative politicians have promised to revive Energy East or something similar. Unless a Conservative-led federal government builds the pipeline itself, this kind of project would depend on a private company providing the money and a plan to see it through.

Beyond a push to move more Alberta oil east, Poilievre said he would support Newfoundland and Labrador’s existing plan to produce significantly more oil each year.

Provincial leaders aim to more than double production from 244,000 barrels of oil a day to 650,000 by 2030. The Poilievre campaign estimates the new supply would more than offset the 126,000 barrels of oil that would be displaced by the proposed ban on certain foreign products. , oil imports outside the United States.

Irving Oil Refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick The refinery produces more than 320,000 barrels of finished product every day — and it relies heavily on foreign sources of oil. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

To increase that province’s production, Poilievre said he would scrap the Liberal government’s existing environmental assessment law, Bill C-69 – which he called “an anti-energy law” – and ” would remove the guardians of government “to quickly approve” the environmentally responsible expansion of Newfoundland’s offshore.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s proposed increase in oil production depends on the federal government’s approval of the offshore Bay du Nord project, which would produce about 200,000 barrels per day when operational in 2025.

But this offshore project – which relies on reserves of nearly 300 million barrels of oil – is in limbo. Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has repeatedly pushed back on a final decision as climate activists demand the project be halted due to greenhouse gas emissions concerns.

Guilbeault is now expected to make a decision on that project on April 13.