Pipeline to Atlantic Canada: the ball's in your court, Mme Marois - Macleans.ca

Pipeline to Atlantic Canada: the ball’s in your court, Mme Marois

TransCanada moves ahead with east-west pipeline


Keep an eye on those subordinate clauses:

The Energy East pipeline would deliver some 850,000 barrels of crude a day from Western Canada to Quebec and New Brunswick, serving the three refineries in the two provinces. The project – labelled a “nation builder” by New Brunswick Premier David Alward – has been endorsed by provincial and federal politicians, though Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said last week her province would have to study the proposal once TransCanada releases its detailed plans.

I wrote in March about Marois’s surprising turn away from ostentatious environmentalism toward low-key but diligent courting of Alberta oil companies. Note especially, in that article, the bit about how the province’s environmentalist groups, which had considered Marois a steady ally, suddenly feel a bit like Charlie Brown after his annual shot at Lucy’s football.

How would public hearings on the TransCanada project go? What effect would they have on what has been, since its election not quite a year ago, one of the least popular governments in Canada? Surely Marois is asking herself the same question.


Pipeline to Atlantic Canada: the ball’s in your court, Mme Marois

  1. All these years it’s taken to do one simple thing….all these years wasted…..

    • Lefty Gordon Laxer of U of A’s Parkland Institute has long squawked about Canada’s lack of oil security, and called for this. But he, Maude Barlow, Elizabeth May and the GPC , NDP had all argued, incorrectly, that NAFTA’s energy rationing provisions (during shortage) prevented this line from being built. Nonsense.

      Low gas prices in North America (from fracking of shale) made one TCPL pipeline redundant – which added positively to the economics – that along with exploding oil production. Not economically viable in the past w/o gov’t subsidies.

      • Well, actually I meant since Trudeau Sr.

        • Trudeau Sr. I believe, entered into long term contracts with Venezuela in response to the pinching of the spigots by Lougheed during the NEP wars.

          • Yup, we’ve long since gotten oil from overseas. No ‘freezing in the dark’ here.

  2. Montreal can create an export refining industry (servicing the eastern US coast and Europe), with many high paying refinery jobs with the pipeline reversal.

    The refinery that was closed would likely be renovated and reopened.

    It would be a big economic boost to Montreal and Quebec. It could potentially really help the PQ push back in Montreal.

    Quebec is potentiallly a big economic winner in the pipeline reversal.

    • Behind the scenes I believe Mme Marois has been cozying up to Alberta regarding a pipeline to the East. Now that it may be a reality, she must show political due diligence to her environmental crowd, but in the end will negotiate a deal.

      • That may have been true before July 6. Nowadays, I’m not so sure. Quebec won’t be the tarsands’ toxic waste dump and the PQ government is well aware of the foul mood of the populace since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. Add the widespread distrust of Ottawa’s criminal policies of laissez-faire in the transportation sector, and you get two good reasons to say no.

        • Good rationale. Time will tell.

  3. There has been some questioning of the economic merits of this project by EconoWatch bloggers. So, it is worthwhile quoting from the independent ScotiaBank commodities report released Monday, and referenced in the G&M front page report linked above:

    The ‘Energy East Pipeline Project’ offers the following advantages: 1) the line would allow access to less expensive and more secure domestic crude oil, allowing displacement of imports into the Suncor Energy and Ultramar (Valero) refineries in Montréal and in Lévis (near Québec City) as well as the large Irving Oil refinery in Saint John. These refineries have in the past been mostly supplied by expensive light oil imports, with prices linked to Brent (probably from the North Sea, West & North Africa), though less expensive crude has more recently been imported by tanker from the USGC and by rail from the North Dakota Bakken and Western Canada. 2) Greater access to stable supplies of domestic oil would improve the financial viability of current refineries and could eventually encourage development of a larger domestic refining industry in Québec and Atlantic Canada. History shows that pipeline developments — linking crude oil supplies to markets — often precede refinery expansion; and 3) the line could provide vitally needed new export outlets for Western Canadian oil — to Europe and, most interestingly, to India (a growth market) as well as to PADD I and III in the United States — accompanied by expanded port and marine service-sector activity near Québec City and Saint John.

    The economics of the ‘Energy East Pipeline Project’ are compelling. Initial flows through the line to Montréal and Québec City would likely involve ‘light’ crude oil from Western Canada — conventional, ‘light, tight’ oil or upgraded light synthetic crude oil from the oil sands.


    • “(probably from the North Sea, West & North Africa)”
      Aren’t they getting a goodly portion from the NL offshore wells? I know that one of the concessions that NL had to make to get the Atlantic Accord was that oil from the wells would not be refined in NL but sent to the maritimes / Quebec in order to prevent job losses at their refineries (it was a sore point with many NLers).

      • Could be. You’re talking Hibernia, Wild Rose, Hebron.

        Nevertheless, Canada still imports considerable oil to the east coast refineries. The first stage would be to displace foreign imports, then export, net of NL production. It’s incremental volumes, not absolute.

  4. One further observation. The earlier reported commitment of the Alberta 20 yr commitment was for 100,000 Bbl/d. Due to oversubscription from O&G producers, the announced design conditions for TCPL’s Energy East I believe is 1.1 million barrels/d.

    So, the pct share of Gov’t of Alberta’s share is 100/1,100 or about 9% – not insignificant – something to keep in mind as the bucket brigade may be needed to put out the smouldering strawmen.

  5. “though Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said last week her province would have to study the proposal once TransCanada releases its detailed plans.” Translation: we will waste everyone’s time by pretending to study the issue so that we can fool the Quebec public into actually thinking we know what we are talking about and are acting in their best interest so that we can get more votes in the next election.