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Fracked gas as cheap energy to fuel Irving refining of bitumen?

The Council of Canadians opposes both the TransCanada Energy East pipeline and shale gas exploration by SWN Resources in New Brunswick.

In mid-November, CBC reported, “(New Brunswick Premier David Alward) said the ongoing opposition to SWN Resource’s shale exploration puts at risk not only the company’s plans, but also a proposed mine north of Fredericton and a planned pipeline to bring Alberta crude to the Irving refinery in Saint John.” And APTN has noted, “Alward has signaled he wants to see the protests (against Houston-based SWN Resources testing for shale gas) broken, calling the current conflict on Hwy 11 a ‘beachhead’ that could determine the fate of other energy projects slated to hit the province.”

And now APTN adds to this, “TransCanada is planning to build (the Energy East) pipeline to Saint John, NB, that would carry Alberta mined bitumen to an expanded terminal owned by Irving Oil. Irving Oil executives have been quoted in news reports saying shale gas would provide a cheap source of energy for the firm to process the additional bitumen coming from Alberta.”

This refinery, the largest in Canada, refines more than 300,000 barrels a day, over half of which is now exported to the US Northeast. It refines gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, propane, and asphalt.

We will be looking into this more.

Back in February 2012, CBC reported, “Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, cautioned against what she described as the New Brunswick government’s ‘love affair’ with fracking. Barlow said fracking is a threat to Canada’s water supply.” In December 2011, the Alward government rejected a moratorium on fracking in the province.

Energy East would be a 4,400 kilometre pipeline stretching from Alberta to New Brunswick. It would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan. The company would convert 3,000 kilometres of an existing natural gas pipeline to Quebec and build an additional 1,400 kilometres of pipeline from there to New Brunswick. Its terminus there would be the Irving Refinery and its deep water port in Saint John. It is believed that the crude could be exported to India, China, Europe and the US from there. That could mean 30 tankers a month travelling through the Bay of Fundy to these markets. This pipeline proposal is being enthusiastically backed by the Alward government.

It is expected that TransCanada will seek approval from the National Energy Board for the pipeline in early 2014. The portion of the pipeline to Quebec could be converted by 2017, the pipeline to New Brunswick completed and operational by 2018. 

The next provincial election in New Brunswick will be on September 22, 2014.

Further reading
Barlow tells Alward government to end its ‘love affair’ with fracking in New Brunswick
Energy East pipeline threatens beluga whales in the St. Lawrence