Canada ranks third in terms of world oil reserves behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Most of its 175 billion barrels of oil are found in so-called tar sands deposits in western Alberta province.
Marvin Odum, upstream director for American operations at Royal Dutch Shell, told a London energy conference that Canada is positioned to meet global energy demands.
"Over the next decade, we see opportunities to increase oil sands production further, while at the same time lowering the costs of this energy and reducing our environmental footprint," he said.
Critics of tar sands complain it's more corrosive and lingers longer in the environment than conventional crude. Fuels produced from tar sands also emit more carbon dioxide than conventional crude.
Odum said his company was working on carbon capture and storage technology at its Alberta operations that, by 2015, could capture around 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Demonstrators in the United States had, in the past, blocked the road to the White House to protest the planned Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport tar sands to U.S. refineries. Odum said the project is sound, adding that it was "used as a political football."
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