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Seven in 10 Canadians want more domestic oil & gas output to cut Russian influence: poll

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent missile barrage across Ukraine caused natural gas prices to fluctuate on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent missile barrage across Ukraine caused natural gas prices to fluctuate on Wednesday. (REUTERS)

More than 70 per cent of Canadians support increasing the country's oil and gas production to reduce global dependence on Russian energy exports, according to a new poll released on Wednesday.

The Ukraine crisis, now pushing into its eighth month, has led to soaring energy prices in Europe, adding to the risk of a recession for EU economies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent missile barrage across Ukraine caused natural gas prices (NG=F) to fluctuate on Wednesday amid fears an escalating war could damage remaining fuel links to Western Europe.

On Wednesday, the Russian leader said gas from his country could still be supplied to Europe through the intact part of the Nord Stream pipeline system. Germany has rejected the idea.

Nord Stream 2, a conduit linking Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, has been a flashpoint in the crisis. Putin repeated his claim on Wednesday that the U.S. was likely behind recent explosions that ripped through the pipeline, causing a massive leak.

Canada, for its part, has remained cool to the idea of shipping Canadian natural gas to Europe. In late August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau questioned the "business case" for doing so. His remarks came as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz asked Canada to play a "major role" in replacing Russian oil and gas. However, Ottawa did pledge in April to boost oil and gas production in order to raise global supply.

According to Leger, 49 per cent of those polled strongly support Canada increasing oil and gas production, with 23 per cent saying they somewhat support the idea. Twelve per cent were either somewhat opposed, or strongly opposed.

The question was put to 1,535 Canadian adult residents online between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. The poll was commissioned by the right-leaning think tank SecondStreet.org.

Over half (54 per cent) of those polled agree that Canada could help its European allies, if the government were to "approve companies to produce more oil and gas and build new pipelines so that the resources can be shipped to the coasts" for export. Sixteen per cent say there is no business case for Canada to export to European countries, with the remaining 30 per cent saying they "don't know."

Support for boosting oil and gas production was strongest in the Prairies, at 85 per cent in Alberta, and 83 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Those polled in Quebec were most likely to oppose the idea, at 22 per cent.

Albertan respondents were also most likely to agree that more oil and gas production and pipelines in Canada would help European countries (73 per cent). Quebec residents were most likely to reject the idea, at 25 per cent.

Leger says the poll's margin of error was ±2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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