Canada PM Trudeau addresses CERAWeek 2017
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his country can tap its natural resources responsibly.CERAWeek/IHS Markit

No country with a potential 173bn barrels of oil, as Canada has, would leave them in the ground, the country's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday (9 March).

Speaking at IHS Markit's CERAWeek in Houston, Texas, one of the oil and gas industry's major international fixtures, Trudeau said Canada's precious resource – the bituminous tar sands, deemed the world's third-largest proven oil resource – could be tapped ethically and responsibly.

The PM welcomed US President Donald Trump's move to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project that TransCanada proposed nearly a decade ago, but which was constantly blocked by the Obama administration.

He also said his government approved two other pipelines — Trans Mountain's Kinder Morgan line and Enbridge's Line 3 rebuild.

"I make no bones about it. We're proud of this," he said. It's progress. It's important. We've approved the pipeline projects in tandem with action on climate change."

However, the PM said the moves did not imply that Canada cannot be a leader on clean energy technologies such as carbon capture and better batteries for electric cars.

Trudeau argued that Canada has been, and will remain, a reliable source of energy for the US: "Nothing is more essential to the US economy than access to a secure, reliable source of energy. Canada is that source."

However, Trudeau's address to CERAWeek was clouded by news of Shell and Houston-based Marathon Oil selling their stakes in the tar sands to Canadian Natural Resources for $12.74 bn (£7.3bn) in cash and shares, at a time of lower crude prices, with West Texas Intermediate contract having once again fallen below $50 per barrel.

Elsewhere, in his address, Trudeau said he was concerned by the prospect of border taxes currently being mulled by the Trump administration. When asked about his meeting with the new occupant of the White House, the PM quipped: "We're Canadian, we get along with everyone."