Saskatchewan is poised to step into the international spotlight as an oil powerhouse, a U.S. energy expert says.
Paul Michael Wihbey, Washington-based geopolitical energy strategist, spoke at an oilsands development seminar Wednesday in Regina.
He says in a few years, the Western Hemisphere will be the new centre for world oil production, particularly Western Canada.
Saskatchewan's research into oil extraction, combined with its stable government and untapped resources, are its top selling points, Wihbey said.
"Saskatchewan will be a driving engine in how this new world market in oil will be defined," he said. "Then it's the question of the right political decisions being taken to encourage investors to get into the oilsands and develop it, as has been the case in Alberta."
It's a message Premier Brad Wall says he's taking seriously.
"We want others to know outside the borders about this very secure, politically stable supply of energy into the future,"Wall said Wednesday.
Wall said his government is already looking at ways to encourage oilsands development.
Government geoscientists have estimated northwestern Saskatchewan contains 27,000 square kilometres of land with "some level" of oil sands potential.
Wall said to attract investment, the government will be trumpeting its low royalty rates. It will also be looking at regulations around oilsands and oil shale development, he said.
"We need to have a look at them to make sure they're up to date, that they're modern, that they're competitive," he said.
Oil royalties have been the subjectof furious debate in Alberta in recent months. A panel appointed by the provincial government there said Albertans are not getting their fair share of energy revenues and recommended raising royalty rates by 20 per cent, or $2 billion a year.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach later announced less steep increases — royalties in Alberta will jump by $1.4 billion a year,starting in 2009.
Critics attacked Albertafor watering down the panel's recommendations, while the oil industry promised to move capital and jobs out of the Alberta oilpatch if the plan proceeded.