Senator John Hoeven, a member of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, Tuesday inspected Canadian energy operations, including an "in situ" production site in the oil sands. Hoeven is in Alberta to build energy partnerships between the United States and its northern ally. The Senator has been working to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to U.S. refineries, including 100,000 barrels from North Dakota and Montana.
"Canada is the United States' greatest friend and ally and by working together we have an enormous opportunity to achieve North American energy security," said Hoeven. "We need to seize this opportunity and take advantage of projects, like the Keystone XL pipeline, that help us to develop more energy with new technology and better environmental stewardship. If the United States doesn't act, other nations will."
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Canada ranks third, behind only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, in estimated proven oil reserves. Canada is the United States' top supplier of crude oil, with imports topping two million barrels per day in 2011.
Hoeven visited Christina Lake, an "in-situ" oil sands production site operated by Cenovus Energy that produces approximately 58,000 barrels per day. The "in-situ" production process in the oil sands is newer technology that involves injecting steam into the ground to soften the oil so it will flow to the surface. The Senator inspected well pads, water treatment facilities, production plants and pipelines used in the production process. "In-situ" production is energy efficient, requires minimal surface disturbance and uses non-potable water for steam generation.
"With the right kind of energy policy we can empower private investment that will produce more energy with better environmental stewardship. Working with Canada, we can achieve energy security for our country within five to seven years," said Hoeven. "We've shown that can be done in North Dakota, and now we need to do the same thing as a nation. It's about energy, it's about economic growth and it's about national security."
Additionally, Hoeven inspected the Mildred Lake oil sands mining site, operated by Syncrude. Syncrude employees approximately 5,000 employees and 1,500 contractors and has the capacity to produce more than 350,000 barrels of oil per day. Hoeven visited the mine site as well as reclaimed areas. Syncrude has reclaimed more than 11,000 acres.
Hoeven recently introduced the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act of 2012, a comprehensive package of energy legislation that will reduce the high energy costs faced by hard-working families and small businesses. It includes a provision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and allow TransCanada to construct the northern leg of the pipeline immediately except in Nebraska, while officials continue the routing process within that state.