OTTAWA, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Canada might need to go outside the structure of a free trade deal if it wants to continue selling Alberta oil sands to Europe, a Canadian official said.
Canadian Trade Minister Peter Van Loan said his government is concerned that the European Union could curb imports of tar sands oil from Alberta province in favor of conventional fuels.
According to Van Loan, oil extracted from the region shouldn't be treated any differently than conventional crude oil products.
"Canada and the EU are working to resolve this issue outside of the negotiations toward a free trade deal," he told the Platts news service.
The European government in 2009 proposed legislation that would cut imports of oil sands from Canada. The measure was designed to encourage the use of greener energy sources, describing oil sands as one of the dirtier sources of fuel products.
Canada sits on an abundance of oil sand deposits, though environmental groups worry the costs may outweigh the benefits.
"Oil sands-derived fuel should be treated on a similar basis as other crude oil sources and decisions must be based on sound scientific evidence," said Van Loan.