TransCanada abandons Canada east-west pipeline bid

  • Economy
  • Thursday, 05 Oct 2017

MONTREAL: TransCanada announced Thursday it was abandoning its bid to build an east-west pipeline that would have moved crude from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the Atlantic coast.

The 4,500km Energy East pipeline, which would have carried 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, faced stiff opposition from environmental groups and several municipalities in Quebec concerned about possible spills affecting groundwaters and rivers along its path.

”After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East application,” company chief executive Russ Girling said in a statement. 

The project -- involving the conversion of a natural gas conduit from Alberta to Quebec and the construction of new pipes on the last leg to New Brunswick -- was first proposed in 2013 when oil prices were near US$100 per barrel.

But as prices tumbled and regulatory hurdles aimed at protecting the environment multiplied, the business case for Energy East became weaker.

Proponents said it presented an opportunity to wean Canada off foreign oil as refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick rely mostly on imports.

But opponents pointed to the more than 700 rivers at risk by the pipeline.

Conservative MP Lisa Raitt blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tightening of regulations related to energy projects, calling them “onerous” and saying they created an uneven playing field with foreign oil companies.

”Today’s announcement is not the result of a sudden decision by TransCanada. Instead, today is a result of the disastrous energy policies promoted by Justin Trudeau and his failure to champion the Canadian energy sector,” Raitt said.

”Everything Justin Trudeau touches becomes a nightmare.”

But Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr dismissed her criticisms, calling TransCanada’s move a “business decision” and pointing to his Liberal government’s approval of two other pipelines under the same set of criteria.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant went further in saying he believed the project would have been approved if TransCanada had continued with the process.

Alberta premier Rachel Notley also lamented its demise, while opponents in Quebec rejoiced and praised citizen groups that played a key role in the fight against the pipeline.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups also claimed a victory for those who believed there was “no social value in the project” in a world fighting climate change.

”The world is changing and the end of the oil era is in sight,” said Greenpeace’s Patrick Bonin.

But the Canadian Chamber of Commerce called the decision to abandon the multi-billion dollar project a “serious blow to the Canadian economy,” as it would have created thousands of jobs. - AFP
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