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Canada To Defend Its Oil And Uranium Exports At G8 Talks

File photo: Open pit oil-sands excavation, Fort McKay, Canada.
by Michel Comte
Ottawa (AFP) Jul 07, 2006
Canada will look to defend its massive energy exports at a Group of Eight industrialized nations summit in St. Petersburg, Russia mid-July, officials said Friday. "The issue of energy, energy security, energy supply is very important to Canada," a senior official told reporters at a summit briefing in Ottawa.

"It's very important that Canada as an exporter be very active in shaping the approach that the G8 leaders endorse on the energy side."

Issues surrounding the global trade of energy, including stability of supply and demand, are expected to feature highly at the G8 summit to be held July 15 to 17 with Russian President Vladimir Putin as host.

The G8 talks are expected to also cover pandemic vaccines, global terrorism, rebuilding Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea's nuclear and arms ambitions, and Africa, officials said.

They said Prime Minister Stephen Harper would also raise the former communist country's alleged democratic backslide with Putin.

"This will be the first meeting between the prime minister and President Putin and it's important for us to convey messages in terms of our expectations about human rights and good governance in Russia," an advisor to Harper said.

"That message will be conveyed directly, respectfully," he said.

Canada is focused on energy as it and Russia are the G8's only net energy exporters. Canada produces about one-third of the world's uranium supply, while its Alberta oil sands, at an estimated 179 billion barrels, rank second behind Saudi Arabia in petroleum resources.

In an early June meeting the G8 finance ministers called on energy producers and consumers to "facilitate investment in the energy sector, improve energy efficiency, including through national initiatives, and promote greater transparency and reliability in energy market data."

Officials said Friday that Ottawa would push for transparent, market-based approaches and regulatory predictability in energy development, supply and security at the coming talks, principles largely accepted by all G8 members.

"We're close to a consensus and I believe we're very much moving in the right direction (towards these principles)," a senior official said.

Ottawa will also press G8 leaders to endorse nuclear energy as part of the future energy mix to meet global energy demands, as well as deal with related questions of nuclear arms non-proliferation, waste and safety, officials said.

"How are we going to collectively manage the expansion of the nuclear requirement for civil energy while at the same time dealing with issue of nuclear waste and proliferation," a senior official said.

"The leaders will want to acknowledge that we have to do more work in that regard and Canada has a particular interest and expertise there."

No details of Canada's proposals in this area were provided.

Heads of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Energy Agency, and the chair of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is also president of uranium-rich Kazakhstan, are expected to attend the conference.

Environment and climate change issues as they relate to energy are also on the agenda.

These will be discussed in the context of the UNFCCC, Asia-Pacific partnership and other proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, officials said.

Prime Minister Harper will also meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth in London, as well as French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in Paris around the G8 summit.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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