February 1, 2013 / 9:30 PM / 5 years ago

Alberta picks former oil lobby head as Washington envoy

CALGARY, Alberta, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Alberta on Friday appointed energy executive David Manning, a former head of Canada’s most powerful oil lobby group, as its envoy to Washington as it looks for a favorable decision from the Obama administration on the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline project.

Manning is a senior vice-president and head of the energy practice at Vanasse Hangen Brustline Inc, a Boston engineering firm, and a director at consulting firm M.J. Bradley & Associates.

A former deputy energy minister in Alberta, Manning also spent 10 years as an executive vice-president at National Grid Plc’s KeySpan unit. He was also head of the influential Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers from 1995 through 1999, representing Canada’s largest oil and gas producers during the negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol.

Manning’s appointment by Alberta Premier Alison Redford comes as Alberta looks for approval from the U.S. State Department on the TransCanada Corp’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which would take oil sands crudes to gulf coast refineries and ease a shortage of pipeline space.

“The economic necessity of enhanced market access for Alberta’s products requires real-time information getting to the most influential decision-makers in the U.S., Canada and throughout the world,” Redford said in a statement.

A lack of export pipeline space pushed the price of oil sands crude to more than $40 per barrel below the U.S. West Texas Intermediate benchmark, devastating the finances of the province, which relies on the oil industry for nearly a third of its revenue.

Redford warned last week that Alberta faced a C$6 billion ($6 billion) budget shortfall because of the unexpectedly low oil price.

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