(EnergyAsia, March 27 2012, Tuesday) — Canada’s upstream oil and natural gas industry said it welcomes and encourages federal initiatives to negotiate trade-related agreements with Asian countries given their strong and growing need for oil and natural gas and growing importance in global energy markets.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, presently on his second visit to the region this year, announced the launch of free trade talks with Japan to add to on-going efforts to pursue trade agreements with Thailand and South Korea.

Dave Collyer, President of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said:

“Demand for Canadian products like crude oil and natural gas is strong in Asia and growing. Oil and natural gas exports, primarily to the US, currently contribute some C$80 billion to the Canadian economy annually. Diversifying markets for Canadian oil and natural gas products is vital to ensuring Canada continues to grow its oil and gas production and receives full value for its natural resources.” (US$1=C$0.99).

In addition to developing new export markets, CAPP said the industry is exploring cost-competitive ways of providing Canadian crude oil and natural gas to domestic markets and the US, reducing North American dependence on foreign imports.

According to the International Energy Agency, Asia, especially China, will drive the development of the world’s energy markets. Over the next 25 years, the IEA expects China alone to account for more than 30% of the projected growth in global energy demand, consolidating its position as the world’s largest energy consumer.

“While developing new markets for Canadian trade is very important, our industry understands that increasing domestic oil and natural gas production depends on continuing environmental and social performance improvement and delivering tangible economic benefits for all Canadians,” said Mr Collyer.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) represents companies, large and small, involving in the exploration, development and production of natural gas and crude oil in the country. Its member companies produce more than 90% of Canada’s natural gas and crude oil while its associate members provide a wide range of services that support the upstream crude oil and natural gas industry. Together, they produce revenues of about C$100 billion a year.