A study from the University of Calgary’s Centre for Public Policy says Alberta's window for getting its oil to Asia won't last long.
The study, called Can Canada Burst its Bitumen Bubble?, concludes the industry needs to find a way to get oilsands bitumen to the west coast soon, or potential customers like China and South Korea will find alternatives.
The future of the Northern Gateway pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline is still unknown.
Michal Moore, with the U of C's School of Public Policy, says refineries in countries like China, Taiwan and South Korea can be upgraded to handle Alberta bitumen, but the lack of certainty in how it will get there means they won't wait forever.
He says Alberta has between two and five years to settle how to get its oil to ocean ports or Asian buyers will look elsewhere.
“If people can see that you're making progress — that you're going to be able to deliver in that timeframe, then they'll adjust and begin to expand or set aside capacity to deal with that in that same timeframe,” Moore says.
But if Asian countries do move on to other suppliers, Moore says Alberta's oil could be used in different industries domestically, or helping Eastern Canada become less reliant on foreign oil.