Alberta's oil sand producers have tried to send their oil south but were stymied by Barack Obama and the opponents of the Keystone pipeline. They're now trying to send their bitumen to Asia but are facing a lot of resistance to the Gateway pipeline project in British Columbia.
So, where should they send their excess capacity? How about a pipeline to Eastern Canada?
It's an idea that seems to be gaining momentum and, on Friday, it received support from an unlikely source — Thomas Mulcair.
In an address — the text of which was published by iPolitics — to the Canadian Club of Toronto at the Royal York Hotel, the NDP leader pledged his support for such a project that would see Alberta oil process at eastern refineries.
"Let me be clear, New Democrats support recent proposals to increase West-East pipeline capacity.
This is an initiative, led by industry that will pay economic dividends for every region of our country: New markets for producers in the West, high-paying value-added jobs and lower energy prices in the East.
That's the type of pro-business, commonsense solution that not only creates jobs, it strengthens Canada's energy security and will leave more to future generations than just debt."
While existing pipelines would likely need to be upgraded, the eastbound strategy is already being initiated by some oil companies.
As chronicled by the Globe and Mail, by the end of the year, Enbridge expects to file a request with the National Energy Board for approval to reverse its Line 9 to transport western crude oil to Suncor's refinery in Montreal. TransCanada is also considering a plan to convert part of its natural gas pipeline to carry Alberta oil to refineries in Quebec.
Some have even suggested expanding pipeline infrastructure to New Brunswick along with the development of a deep-water port in Saint John, to give oil producers access to an Atlantic marine route.
Former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna recently told the Edmonton Journal that producers, Atlantic refiners and shippers are actively considering the "final leg" of a truly national pipeline.
"Alberta energy is a great asset to Canada, but that's not obvious to some Canadians…if we had a national pipeline network, it would become a blinding truth," said McKenna, who is now the deputy chair of the TD Bank group.
"It's perfect in terms of spreading benefits across the country in a tangible way, and putting the lie to those people who think Alberta's petroleum industry isn't good for the entire country."
Former Liberal MP Dan McTeague, who now operates Tomorrowsgaspricetoday.com, recently told Yahoo! Canada News that he's thrilled that industry and politicians are finally talking about sending Alberta oil eastward.
In a blog he wrote last October, McTeague said that it just makes economic sense.
"The aftermath of a bygone battle on energy self-sufficiency in Canada, the idea of a pan-Canadian east-west oil infrastructure was punted in favour of a north-south/Alberta-U.S. oil arrangement that leaves almost half of eastern Canada reliant on foreign oil and petroleum products," he wrote.
"Indeed, a pipeline that once carried Alberta crude to Montreal was shutdown and reversed, supplying foreign-based oil refined gasoline back to a refinery-less Toronto."
McTeauge told Yahoo! that an eastbound pipeline is ultimately good news for consumers.
"Alberta inputs mean cheaper inputs, which ultimately mean cheaper prices at the pump," he said.
With support in Conservative, Liberal and now even NDP circles, maybe a 'pipeline project' to the east actually has a chance of happening.