Skip to content

NEWS: Alberta explores more pipeline routes

The Edmonton Journal reports that, “Alberta is taking a serious second look at export options that seemed inconceivable just two years ago, Energy Minister Ken Hughes says.” With US approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to the south in doubt and mounting opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline to the west, a certain sense of desperation is emerging from the province’s first economic summit this weekend highlighted by comments by Hughes that Alberta must get its oil to coastal ports for export “however we can”.

Among the pipeline ideas:

– “The province is working with industry to access using an 869-kilometre pipeline that runs from Norman Wells, N.W.T., to Zama City in northwest Alberta. Built in the 1980s to carry crude from the Arctic Circle to southern markets, the small pipeline could provide a right-of-way for new construction, Hughes said. From Norman Wells, the line could connect with the right-of-way for the Second World War-era Canol pipeline, which runs to Whitehorse. From there, oil would ship from the port in Valdez, Alaska.”

– “The province is also looking at ship oil by rail to ports on the U.S. West Coast, Hughes said. ‘Churchill is also a real prospect,’ he added, referring to Canada’s only Arctic seaport in northern Manitoba. …’We’ve been approached by the Manitoba government, which is interested in selling hydroelectricity to Alberta. …Our interest in talking to Manitoba is a utility corridor that could contemplate having either pipeline or rail that would go from Alberta to Churchill.'”

The article adds, “These ideas are in addition to well-known proposal such as the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, B.C., the Keystone XL pipeline to the United States, the West-to-East line that would carry Alberta crude to the Atlantic and the G7G proposal to ship oil by rail to Valdez. …”It has become clear to us that if value is added to our products anywhere in Canada, that is good for Alberta,’ Hughes said. ‘Value-added anywhere from Come By Chance, N.L., to Saint John, N.B., to Quebec City to Montreal to Sarnia, Ont., and anywhere else, is in Alberta’s interest.'”

The new suggestions appear to echo recent comments by Finance minister Jim Flaherty and former Environment minister Jim Prentice.

Last weekend, Flaherty commented on Global TV’s The West Block, “There are lots of alternatives. We can explore all of them and it’s one of our priorities, major projects to encourage economic growth and exports. (Options include) pipelines to the East to New Brunswick to St. John, pipeline to Churchill, pipeline through the Rockies.” And this weekend, Prentice said, “We need pipeline infrastructure in every possible direction.” The Globe and Mail article with Prentice’s quote adds, “The Alberta government – and the energy industry – has been advocating for pipelines that would move West (Northern Gateway), East (a proposal to convert a natural gas line through to New Brunswick) and South (Keystone XL), but none of them have been given the green light.”

Both the Harper government and the Redford government in Alberta are facing economic pressure to make these pipelines happen. The Globe and Mail reports this morning, “The lack of pipeline capacity is exacting an economic toll on Alberta by driving down the price that producers get for their oil. The province is anticipating a $6-billion drop in revenues as a result, and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Ottawa also expects its revenues to be weaker as a result of the industry’s problems.”

To read about the Council of Canadians energy campaign, please go to