YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Expanding the Canadian oil and natural gas export market beyond the United States is a "strategic imperative" for the government, the resources minister said.
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver delivered a keynote address at an energy conference in the Northwest Territories. He said global energy demand is expected to increase by 35 percent during the next 25 years. Given Canada's rich oil and natural gas reserves, it's positioned to take advantage of the situation.
"This is a pivotal moment when we decide whether to take that opportunity or let it pass us by," he said Monday.
Oliver said the government was serious about a safe and secure supply of oil and natural gas for energy-hungry Asian economies. He said plans are under way to tighten regulations and liability for any major incidents, including an offshore liability of $1 billion.
Canada aims to reach export markets through pipeline infrastructure planned for the eastern and western coasts. It's supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, planned for southern U.S. refineries.
"It is a strategic imperative to diversify our energy markets, since virtually all Canada's oil and gas exports go to the United States, whose recent [oil and gas] discoveries mean it will need Canadian resources less in the future," Oliver said. "A pre-condition of diversification is the construction of infrastructure, to bring those resources to tidewater."