Sarnia vying for Keystone oil sands

By Tyler Kula,  from   The Observer

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley speaks to the Golden K Kiwanis club at the Lochiel Kiwanis Community Centre Tuesday about the state of the city. Topics ranged from economics and commercial development to the upcoming city centennial in 2014.

Sarnia is in position to be the site for an oil sands upgrader if a proposed international pipeline deal from Canada’s oil sands to the United States falls through, says the city’s mayor.

Mike Bradley was speaking at a state of the city address to Golden K Kiwanis club members at the Lochiel Kiwanis Community Centre Tuesday.

“One of the alternatives if that project doesn’t go ahead is to look at keeping our resources in Canada, getting the extra value of the jobs here,” he said.

Talks have been ongoing for the past 18 months and have included Conservative MP Pat Davidson, he said.

The Keystone Pipeline Project, to move oil and bitumen from the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta the United States, is stalled, pending approval from U.S. President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile Canadian Primer Minister Stephen Harper has said China is an alternative destination if the deal fails.

But an in-Canada solution should be given consideration, Bradley said, noting recent talks about a Canadian national energy policy are encouraging.

“One of the big issues in the States is putting in a new pipeline,” he said. “We have the pipeline.”

An upgrading facility, similar to what could have materialized from the failed Shell refinery project for St. Clair Township in 2008, would create jobs and stabilize industry, he said.

Mike Ireland, senior development consultant with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, said officials have recently been promoting Sarnia at oil sands events in Alberta.

“There have been some preliminary discussions involving the Alberta government and Alberta’s Industrial Heartland (near Edmonton),” he said. “At this point in time it’s still something that we need to get developed and we are working on it.”

Any project will need industry support, he said; there are also proposals for Sarnia engineers to manufacture equipment for oil sands use.

Eventually talks will involve the federal government, he said.

When asked about her involvement, Pat Davidson said the talks are nothing new.

“This is something that this community has worked on for a long time and something the community continues to work on,” she said.

Keystone however provides Sarnia with a good opportunity to showcase the community’s strengths and resources, she said.

Bradley, at his address Tuesday, said he’s cautiously optimistic about the city’s future.

He highlighted a number of initiatives and challenges, including 12 pilot projects at the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre and the recently announced closure of the NCO call centre.

Decisions are expected this year about commercial expansion; a transportation study is planned and the city is preparing for Sarnia’s centennial in 2014.

Observer Article ID# 3439083

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