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

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

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels allowed four straight goals from the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night on the road. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers hand Red Deer Rebels 10th straight loss

Tigers 4 Rebels 2 Through 17 games in the shortened WHL season,… Continue reading

Meghan Huizing has been selected by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools as a finalist for the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) 2021 Edwin Parr Award. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools)
Red Deer Catholic names finalist for Edwin Parr Award

Meghan Huizing from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds has… Continue reading

GrammaLink-Africa members are participating in the Stride to Turn the Tide campaign until June 30. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer group walking to raise money for African grandmothers

A group of central Albertans will be walking every day until the… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Montreal Canadiens' Tyler Toffoli celebrates his goal past Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Toffoli scores twice, Canadiens put some distance on Flames with 2-1 win

Toffoli scores twice, Canadiens put some distance on Flames with 2-1 win

Canadian prop Jake Ilnicki savouring life in Seattle, looks forward to facing Arrows

Canadian prop Jake Ilnicki savouring life in Seattle, looks forward to facing Arrows

Corey Conners, of Canada, hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the final round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 11, 2021. Conners notched six birdies on his back nine to take the lead after his second round of the RBC Heritage on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matt Slocum
Canadian Corey Conners surges into lead at PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage

Canadian Corey Conners surges into lead at PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage

Patrick Marleau poised to break Gordie Howe’s games record

Patrick Marleau poised to break Gordie Howe’s games record

Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada serves to Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in round 1 of the Rogers Cup women's tennis tournament in Toronto, Monday August 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Rebecca Marino propels Canada into 2-0 lead over Serbia at Billie Jean King Cup

Rebecca Marino propels Canada into 2-0 lead over Serbia at Billie Jean King Cup

Dalton Kellett pulls out of the pits during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. Dalton Kellett is pleased his second career season in IndyCar will be different than his first, which started on an elaborate iRacing rig in his home office in Indianapolis because of COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Darron Cummings
Canada’s Dalton Kellett set for a more stable season as an IndyCar driver

Canada’s Dalton Kellett set for a more stable season as an IndyCar driver

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Canadian women get peek at their possible road at Olympic soccer tournament

Canadian women get peek at their possible road at Olympic soccer tournament

Head coach John Tait talks to his team as Canada takes on Japan in women's sevens rugby action at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Rugby Canada says probe into complaint from members of women’s 7s team is complete

Rugby Canada says probe into complaint from members of women’s 7s team is complete

Most Read