OTTAWA (Dow Jones)
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a broadcast interview Monday evening that the country is "very serious" about focusing its efforts on selling oil and gas to Asia, even in the event of an accelerated approval for the Keystone XL project.
According to excerpts of the interview released by the CTV network, Harper said there was no turning back on its push to boost energy-related exports to Asia.
The Obama administration has said a decision on whether TransCanada Corp. (TRP) can get a permit to build the extension to the existing Keystone pipeline -- which would move crude oil from the Alberta oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast -- won't be made until after the 2012 U.S. election.
"I am very serious about selling our oil off this continent, selling our energy products off to Asia. I think we have to do that," Harper said in the interview, clips of which were highlighted on the main CTV network's evening broadcast Monday night. The full interview will air on Dec. 26.
"When I was down in the United States recently it was interesting. I ran into several senior Americans who all said, 'Don't worry, we'll get Keystone done. You can sell all of your oil to us.' I said, 'Yeah, we'd love to but I think the problem is now that we're on a different track."
The U.S. Senate had agreed to extend a payroll tax cut that the White House pushed, but only on the condition that the White House accelerated plans on a Keystone XL decision, to within the next two months.
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