Canada is losing $60 million a day because the U.S. is almost the only outlet for oil exports, says Al Monaco, president of Enbridge Inc.
That's why Canada needs new pipelines to carry oil to seaports for export, Monaco told the Toronto Board of Trade Monday.
"We're isolated from world markets and that makes us a captive supplier," said Monaco - who will take over the top job at Enbridge when chief executive Patrick Daniel retires later this year.
Canadian oil piped south to the U.S. market is being sold for about $72 a barrel, Monaco said.
Meanwhile, the price on world markets is about $102 a barrel.
"If you do the math behind that, it translates into a loss of about $60 million a day - a massive loss for Canadians," Monaco said.
"Every day that goes by without access to tidewater and world markets for our oil and gas is another day of lost opportunity," he said.
Canadian natural gas also trades on North American markets at a heavy discount to the Asian price, he noted.
"Today, as Canadians, we are leaving billions of dollars on the table because we're not realizing full value for our resources."
Enbridge is currently seeking permission to build its Northern Gateway pipeline across British Columbia to carry crude from Alberta's oil sands to a seaport serving Asian markets.
It is also seeking permission to reverse the flow of its Line 9 pipe, which runs between Sarnia and Montreal.
The pipe now carries imported crude westward to Sarnia. Enbridge wants it to carry western crude eastward to Montreal.
It could then potentially be piped onward to the east coast of the U.S. as well.
Both projects have run into opposition from environmentalists and First Nations groups.
A pair of Toronto police officers sat at the back of the room as Monaco gave his speech, but no protesters showed up.
Answering questions after his speech, Monaco shrugged off fears that the Gateway project could be stalled by decades of court challenges, even if it is granted approval by the National Energy Board.
"We think the project will get approval, we're certainly very focused on getting it there," he said.
Asked about community opposition to various Enbridge projects, Monaco said: "It's part of business today."
"Not everybody is going to agree with our project," he said.
"There will always be people who oppose. Our job is to make sure we do things in a safe and environmentally sound way, that we listen to communities and listen to people that oppose the projects."
Copyright 2012 Toronto Star Newspapers Limited
(Originally published June 19, 2012, in The Toronto Star.)