New N.B. premier hopes to bring Energy East pipeline back from the dead

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick’s new premier is trying to revive the Energy East pipeline — even though the original proponent says the project is dead.

TransCanada Corporation abandoned the $15.7-billion project more than a year ago, after the National Energy Board modified the environmental assessment process.

But Premier Blaine Higgs, along with some other premiers and federal politicians, are again pushing the proposed pipeline as a way to get more western crude to refineries in Eastern Canada and for export to foreign markets.

Ontario and Quebec have also new elected new premiers this year, and Higgs said he thinks Energy East could be viable.

“The fact that Ontario has said they’re not opposed to oil coming through the province, there’s a hurdle that’s now gone. We know that Manitoba and Saskatchewan are fine and we know Alberta is looking for a way out,” said Higgs.

“We see Alberta now taking a strong position with buying rail cars and saying we’ve got to get our oil to market because they’re losing $80 million a day.”

Higgs said he recognizes Quebec could still be a hurdle and he plans to discuss the project with Premier Francois Legault this week at a first ministers meeting in Montreal.

“We’re talking about interprovincial trade. There are some key issues, and that’s one for us. It’s one that’s important for our province. We need some wins,” Higgs said.

Higgs said he discussed Energy East two weeks ago with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He said Trudeau said he’d be willing to discuss the issue again if Higgs was able to get Quebec onside.

But the biggest hurdle may be getting TransCanada interested again. The company cited the regulatory changes and “changed circumstances” as the reason for its pullout last year.

In a statement, Terry Cunha, manager of communications for TransCanada, said their position had not changed.

“We have no plans to revisit the project. We are focused on developing the more than $36 billion in commercially secured pipeline and power generation projects that we currently have underway across North America, including Keystone XL and the Coastal GasLink project in B.C.,” he wrote.

Higgs said he’s not surprised by the Calgary-based company’s position.

“If you spend $800 million and you get jerked around politically so that decisions aren’t made, instead it’s procrastinated on, and … then all of a sudden the rules change mid-stream and then you don’t have any path forward,” Higgs said.

“I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon yet either.”

However, Higgs said he believes if a holding company was formed that applied to the National Energy Board and got the process well underway, then TransCanada might be willing to get back onboard.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Sheer has also been a big Energy East supporter and has said that a federal Conservative government would seek to revive the project.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said last week restarting the project makes a lot of sense.

“Our government would be very interested of course in any effort that was geared towards another project to get our product to tidewater as well as to supply the Canadian market if we could find a way to do that more effectively,” she told reporters in Ottawa.

“Quite frankly it is quite perverse that we are selling our oil in Alberta for $10 a barrel and then in eastern Canada we are importing from places like Saudi Arabia. This makes no sense.”

Energy East would have seen much of the western crude going to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.

Higgs said he has yet to discuss reviving Energy East with Irving, where he worked for more than three decades and retired as a senior executive before entering politics.

“I know their interest would still be there because they would offset at least 100,000 barrels a day of foreign crude, maybe more. That commitment would still be there because they are still in operation and they are still buying foreign crude,” he said.

But New Brunswick Green Leader David Coon said Higgs needs to switch 180 degrees — and instead look at reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

“The World Meteorological Organization just announced a study that if we continue to follow the path we’re following now we are going to blast past the Paris agreement and get into three to five degrees of warming, which is catastrophic,” he said.

But a study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute — released in January — concluded that refineries in central and Atlantic Canada would see lower supply costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions if they bought more Canadian crude oil.

The study found that substituting Canadian oil wherever possible using space on existing pipelines, rail cars and ocean tankers would result in a 47-per-cent reduction in foreign oil imports into Eastern Canada, saving $210 million per year, and the equivalent of more than two million tonnes of carbon dioxide, or about 5.7 per cent.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

Advocate file photo
Man awaiting murder trial facing two new trials for breaching release conditions

Quentin Strawberry going to trial in March in connection with 2019 murder

Ecole La Prairie students and teachers dressed up in Halloween costumes and paraded by Barrett Kiwanis Place, while waving at the building’s residents in Red Deer on Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Ecole La Prairie students parade in Halloween costumes for Red Deer seniors

Dozens of Red Deer students put on their Halloween costumes to spread… Continue reading

Advocate file photo
Preliminary hearing set for Walmart shooting suspect

Chase Freed facing second-degree murder and attempted murder charges

Truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu walks into the Kerry Vickar Centre for his sentencing in Melfort, Sask., Friday, March 22, 2019. nbsp;A lawyer representing the truck driver responsible for the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus collision says he wants to stay in Canada once released from prison. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis
Truck driver responsible for Humboldt Broncos crash seeks to stay in Canada

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to multiple charges

Canada Artistic Swimming plans to ‘rip off the band-aid’ to create better environment

Canada Artistic Swimming plans to ‘rip off the band-aid’ to create better environment

North Carolina's Myles Dorn (1) celebrates a big stop with teammate Patrice Rene (5) during the first quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Miami in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Canadian Rene appears set to return to North Carolina's lineup in time for the No. 15 Tarheels' rivalry game against Virginia and a potential all-Canadian showdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Chris Seward
Canadian Patrice Rene appears set to return to North Carolina’s lineup after injury

Canadian Patrice Rene appears set to return to North Carolina’s lineup after injury

Regina Pats defenceman Cale Fleury (4) tries to clear OHL Hamilton Bulldogs forward Nicholas Caamano (10) from in front of the net during third period Memorial Cup semifinal action in Regina on Friday, May, 25, 2018. The Ontario Hockey League will not have bodychecking this coming season. Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's minister of sport, confirmed the decision on Friday afternoon.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
MacLeod: No bodychecking allowed in upcoming Ontario Hockey League season

MacLeod: No bodychecking allowed in upcoming Ontario Hockey League season

Colorado Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz (39) makes the save on Minnesota Wild's Alex Galchenyuk (27) during third period NHL exhibition game action in Edmonton, on Wednesday July 29, 2020. Galchenyuk says his new team is getting a motivated player with something to prove. The forward signed a one-year, US$1.05-million contract with the Ottawa Senators in free agency earlier this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alex Galchenyuk eager for fresh start with Senators: ‘I have a lot to prove’

Alex Galchenyuk eager for fresh start with Senators: ‘I have a lot to prove’

Bayern's Alphonso Davies, right, challenges PSG's Thilo Kehrer, left, during the Champions League final soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. Canadians Alphonso Davies, Will Johnson, Pat Onstad and Dwayne De Rosario are among the 134 finalists for Major League Soccer's "25 Greatest" players. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Miguel A. Lopes/Pool
Davies, DeRo join Beckham, Giovinco and others as finalists for MLS’ ‘25 Greatest’

Davies, DeRo join Beckham, Giovinco and others as finalists for MLS’ ‘25 Greatest’

Michael Jordan’s NASCAR team partners with Gibbs, Toyota

Michael Jordan’s NASCAR team partners with Gibbs, Toyota

Canadian junior men’s finalist Krats gets call to fill in on Team Gushue

Canadian junior men’s finalist Krats gets call to fill in on Team Gushue

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, file photo, Detroit Lions strong safety Duron Harmon (26), cornerback Darryl Roberts (29) and safety Jayron Kearse (42) review plays with defensive backs coach Steve Gregory and defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, right, on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla. The NFL is recommending that players on the sidelines who are not participating in a game or about to go on the field wear protective masks, according to a league management council memo obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Although the NFL stopped short of mandating masks for all players not on the field, it “strongly encouraged” all active players in the bench area who are not about to enter the game to wear masks while standing on the sideline and/or sitting on the bench. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
NFL recommends some sideline players wear masks during games

NFL recommends some sideline players wear masks during games

Most Read