Oliver notes that limited pipeline capacity and the bottleneck of oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, where benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude is delivered, has led to a price differential with Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil. He said not selling Canadian oil on the international market is costing Canada over $40 million dollars a day.
Oliver said Canadians will increasingly understand that the importance of selling Canada's oil to Asia because it means an immense economic advantage to doing that in terms of jobs and revenue for social programs.
"There's a huge downside if we don't do it in terms of lost opportunity," he said. "We would be the only country in the world with huge resources (that we) are somehow not developing them and exporting them. I think our friends in Norway and Australia look at us with some bemusement as they enrich their countries with the export of their resources."
China's growing economy is hungry for Canadian oil. Chinese state-owned companies have invested billions in Canadian energy in recent years. And Chinese state-owned CNOOC's is proposing a $15.1 billion takeover bid for Canadian oil and gas producer Nexen. It would be China's biggest overseas energy acquisition. Harper's government is reviewing whether the deal provides a net benefit to Canada.The U.S. oil boom is being driven by a newfound ability to squeeze oil out of rock once thought too difficult and expensive to tap. Increased drilling is driving economic growth in states such as North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana and Texas, all of which have unemployment rates far below the national average of 7.8 percent. North Dakota is at 3 percent; Oklahoma, 5.2 percent. Canada has 7.4 percent unemployment. Western Canada's oil sands boom has fueled the country's economy, which has fared better than other industrially developed nations.