Canada's natural resources minister Joe Oliver on Monday lashed out at a European Union (EU) plan to classify crude from oil sands deposits as more polluting than conventional oil and the EU's proposal to impose a carbon tax on the importers.
Speaking to the lower house of parliament, Oliver said "the EU position is unscientific and discriminatory" and that he had written to the EU Commission for Energy to present Canada's case.
Oliver's letter came just days after Canada and the EU concluded the ninth round of free trade talks, with the objective of reaching a free trade deal next year.
The minister told the lawmakers that since Europe does not import Canadian oil, the position is a ploy to "give a free pass to the oil it does import" from North Africa and Asia.
In the letter to EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, Oliver said the EU proposed Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) is not backed by science and violates the union's trade obligations.
He added that the implementation of FQD introduces discriminatory and non-science based impediments to global energy markets and could have unintended consequences to the world oil supply.
Oil sands are deposits of heavy oil, or bitumen, found in sand and clay. A huge deposit of oil sands is located in western Canada and is being developed for export to the United States and Asia.
Canadian leaders call the product "ethical oil" because it is not produced in states that support terrorism. But opponents say the oil sands development produces much more carbon dioxide than conventional oil wells.
Canadian officials are worried that the EU precedent will be repeated in other countries, limiting the markets of Canadian oil and giving ammunition to the U.S. opponents of a new pipeline between the oil sands deposits and the U.S refineries.