NEW YORK, April 23 (UPI) -- Strengthening ties in the energy sector will help the United States and Canada shield the countries from foreign shock, a Canadian minister said in New York.
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, speaking at an energy conference in New York, said the Canadian energy sector is a vital component of regional energy security.
"Strengthening our bilateral energy collaboration would displace oil from Venezuela and the Middle East with a stable continental supply and thereby enhance the energy security of North America," he said.
Nearly all of Canada's oil exports head to the U.S. market. Canadian government officials like Oliver and Alberta Premier Alison Redford have been lobbying U.S. officials to pass the Keystone XL pipeline, a project planned to deliver oil to southern U.S. refineries.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pressed for better access to Asian markets by supporting plans for more export infrastructure on the Canadian west coast.
A report this month from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said that Harper's administration might be placing too much weight on oil ties to the United States. CIBC said it expects China will overtake the United States this year as the leading oil consumer.
Oliver also touted the environmental legacy of the Harper government, saying greenhouse gas emissions are down 26 percent from 1990 levels.
"Canada is among few oil producing countries demonstrating tangible actions to fight climate change," he said.