EDMONTON - Alberta's embattled oilsands could become a key ingredient for world peace, a Canadian researcher says.
In his new book, Alastair Sweeny predicts that the oil deposits will be a stabilizing force in energy markets increasingly dominated by nationally owned firms doing the bidding of their home governments.
"The sands are a calming, stabilizing force in the world, offering energy security. Perhaps this suggests a kind of fortress North America vision, but what it means is we can't be held hostage," he said.
In his newly published book Black Bonanza, The Race to Secure North America's Energy Future, Sweeny flips around the environmental controversy over the oilsands.
He sees it as the key to bridging the gap between the current petroleum-based economies and alternative energy that isn't yet ready for market.
"There are a trillion barrels of oil in the sands. . . . That is more oil than Saudi Arabia, but few people seem to understand what the sands represent, and how massive they are," said Sweeny.
"So the sands give us time to perfect solar. And I think in 20 years solar energy will be huge."
Sweeny argues the oilsands have been "demonized" by slick, professional advertising campaigns, but the economic downturn could signal a change.
"The recession has frightened people, particularly in the U.S.," said Sweeny.