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India a likely destination for Energy East pipeline exports

The National Post reports, “ONGC Videsh Ltd., the overseas arm of India’s biggest state-owned energy explorer, wants to see pipelines built before sinking cash into Western Canadian oil sands and natural gas properties, [Subhash Kumar, senior vice-president of business development with the company] said Wednesday, as the federal government readies a decision on a major oil export conduit. …Crude delivered along TransCanada Corp.’s proposed $12-billion Energy East pipeline to Canada’s Atlantic coast ‘would be of natural interest to us’, ONGC’s Mr. Kumar said, adding shipments from the B.C. coast would also be welcome ‘to the extent that [it would provide] clarity on what is going to be realized for every barrel of oil.'”

This isn’t the first expression of interest in shipping oil to India through the Energy East pipeline.

– The Energy East pipeline has received a public expression of support by India’s High Commissioner to Canada Nirmal Verma.

– The Globe and Mail has reported, “A number of Indian companies are in ‘discussions’ to acquire or invest in Alberta’s energy companies. Private and state-owned companies are exploring potential purchases of the Alberta oil-sands properties owned by ConocoPhillips Co. …The energy industry is escalating efforts to send oil tankers to India and China by way of the east coast. It is shorter to reach India’s west coast refining hub via Canada’s east coast than it is to ship oil off the west coast…”

– In a 2013 interview with Alberta Oil, New Brunswick’s premier also explained that the port of Saint John, where the Energy East project would end, offers a shorter shipping route to India than Canada’s West Coast.”

– TransCanada, the company behind the proposed 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East pipeline, has said the pipeline could open new export markets for tar sands crude, including to the Reliance Industries Ltd.-owned refinery complex in Jamnagar, India.

With Washington continually delaying a decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, the Harper government has signalled very clearly it is seeking to diversify its export markets beyond the United States. Natural Resources minister Greg Rickford also says, “Americans’ demand [for crude imports] will decrease as they ramp up their own productive capacity. So we have to get to other markets.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, “The Energy East pipeline would pose serious threats to local water supplies and communities along the route. The option then to export to the much larger and more profitable markets of India, China and Europe with massive tankers from the deep water port is also a major concern of ours. …This pipeline is not being proposed because TransCanada has suddenly discovered that Atlantic Canada imports its oil.”

In March, the Canadian Press reported, “The $12-billion project would likely use the lion’s share of its 1.1 million barrel per day capacity to send unrefined oil sands crude to markets like India, Europe and possibly the United States, says the report, penned by The Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence and Equiterre.”

To read more about our campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.