FREDERICTON – The premier of New Brunswick says if a proposed national oil pipeline delivered western crude to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John it would mean thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment in the province.

David Alward delivered the message to a business audience in Fredericton last night in his annual state of the province address.

He heads to Alberta on Sunday to meet with Premier Alison Redford and oil industry leaders in his efforts to promote the idea.

Alward also used his speech to say that new rules for shale gas exploration will be unveiled soon, and to announce that his
government will spend 80-million dollars in the next five years on innovation.

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant says he agrees that innovation is important but the Progressive Conservative government is stuck announcing studies and reports rather than taking action.

The Liberals have given their backing to any plan to ship western oil to New Brunswick, but want a moratorium on shale gas development.