Schneider said Alberta monitors oil sands operations closely to protect the environment and preserve the region's boreal forests. All areas must be returned to their original condition when operations cease.
“Alberta has a long history — over 70 years — of regulating the oil and gas industry,” he said.
Alberta's regulations were based on rules promulgated by U.S. states, including Oklahoma, Schneider said.
The province's resources play a large part in Canada's oil production, which accounts for a quarter of the oil imported by the United States. Alberta accounts for 15 percent of U.S. imports on its own.
“That amount can increase in the future,” Schneider said.
Most of Alberta's oil goes to the Midwest, but he said increased pipeline capacity, with projects such as TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, would add more markets and bolster its economic impact.
Schneider said oil sands development can contribute as much as $15.9 billion a year to the U.S. economy — including $155 million a year to Oklahoma — if there are more avenues to move Alberta's oil to American markets.
Fallin pledged her continued support to the Keystone XL project, which was denied a permit by President Barack Obama's administration this year.
She said the southern portion — expected to begin construction this summer, linking Cushing's oil storage hub to the Gulf Coast — is expected to provide a $1.2 billion boost to the state's economy.
Fallin said the project also will employ about 14,000 people during construction, providing direct and indirect benefits to Oklahoma.
After finishing the oil sands tour, which included a flyover of several mining sites, Fallin said she was looking forward to sharing Oklahoma's contributions to the oil and gas industry at the petroleum forum.
The forum was expected to draw 65,000 people from about 90 countries.
“Oklahoma really is a world leader when it comes to technologies, processes and innovations in the oil and gas industry,” she said. “We have so much to offer as a state.”
Fallin said Canada is Oklahoma's No. 1 international trade partner, with 53 Canadian companies doing businesses in the state. They employ more than 3,000 people.
About 36 Oklahoma companies have operations in Alberta, she said, including equipment manufacturer Kimray Inc. and the Williams Cos. Inc., which has invested more than $1 billion in the province.
“There is so much business interaction between Alberta and the state of Oklahoma,” Fallin said. “Hopefully we'll be able to bring even more business from Oklahoma companies up to Canada.”
Editors note: Travel provided by Devon Energy Corp.