Updated:March 8, 2022
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the United States should be seeking his province’s oil instead of getting it from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Responding to a report by Axion that U.S. President Joe Biden may travel to Saudi Arabia in the coming months to request more oil amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Kenney said he would be delighted to welcome the president should he decide to visit Alberta.
“We could discuss how to ship nearly 1 million barrels of day of responsibly produced energy every day from the USA’s closest friend and ally!” he said in a tweet on March 6.
The United States is the world’s largest oil producer ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia, but it is also the biggest oil consumer, and it can’t meet that staggering demand with domestic crude alone.
The United States imported 245 million barrels of oil from Russia last year—about 8 percent of all U.S. oil imports—up from 198 million barrels in 2020. That’s less than it gets from Canada or Mexico but more than it imported last year from Saudi Arabia.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a price hike in gasoline in the United States. On March 6, the price of gas surpassed $4 (C$5.12) a gallon for the first time in nearly 14 years.
Oil prices soared early March 7 before retreating. In midday trading, benchmark U.S. crude was up 2 percent to about $118 (C$151.12) a barrel, and the international price gained 4 percent to around $123 (C$157.52) a barrel. Major U.S. stock indexes were down about 2 percent.
With calls to ban the import of Russian oil, and concerns that such a move would exacerbate the prices of gasoline and oil, Biden has been hesitant to make a decision.
Kenney proposed a solution.
“All it would take is [Biden’s] approval for Keystone XL. Easy,” the premier said in his tweet.
The Keystone XL cross-border pipeline project was held up for more than a decade by environmental opposition and regulatory hurdles. In 2021, Biden scrapped the project by revoking a presidential permit that had been approved by President Donald Trump in 2017.
If Keystone XL had been allowed to proceed, it would have carried 830,000 barrels per day of oil from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest.
Attempts to revive the project were made by the U.S. House Republicans who introduced the American Independence from Russian Energy Act on Feb. 28, a measure meant to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline to boost domestic oil and gas production.
But the bill was defeated in a 221–202 vote on March 1, almost entirely along partisan lines.
Responding to a report by the Wall Street Journal that U.S. officials have met with Venezuela officials face-to-face over the weekend to discuss possible oil exports to replace Russia’s, Kenney questioned the thinking behind Biden’s administration.
“What is going on with US energy policy? Without the Biden veto, #KXL would have added 840,000 BPD [barrels per day] of [Canadian] supply to the US later this year,” he said in another tweet on March 6.
“Now the US is importing +600,000 BPD from Putin & may replace that by lifting sanctions on oil from the Iranian & Venezuelan dictatorships!”
If the discussion between the United States and Venezuela comes to fruition, the oil sanctions imposed on Caracas by the Trump administration in 2019 will be eased, meaning Venezuelan crude oil will be back on the international market.
In a statement to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Relations in 2019, Carrie Filipetti, former deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said the purpose of the oil sanctions was to eliminate funding that enabled a patronage network used to retain the regime of Venezuela leader Nicolás Maduro.
The Maduro regime has been described by Amnesty International as a repressive government that created an “unprecedented human rights crisis” in Venezuela.
“The regime is determined to retain power, and it needs money to do so,” Filipetti told the senators.
“This is a large reason why we have implemented sanctions—to cut off those sources of financial income and prevent the oil industry from being exploited for patronage.”