Irving Oil sees Saint John terminal as 'key export point'

The Globe and Mail reports on comments by an Irving Oil executive about the proposed 1.1 million barrels per day TransCanada Energy East pipeline. "Jeff Matthews, Irving Oil’s chief business development officer, said a $300-million marine terminal near Saint John would be a key export point for the western oil."

Irving Oil port

Similarly, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling has previously stated, "If we're going to be an oil-exporting nation, we're going to have to get oil exported on the water." It has also been reported that, "In a 2013 interview with Alberta Oil, New Brunswick’s premier 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." And Saint John mayor Mel Norton has said, "They'll never build a ship too big to bring it up the Bay of Fundy. You'll never build enough capacity to bring to New Brunswick that we can't fill those ships and take it out to world markets."

Brian Ferguson, the CEO of Cenovus Energy, was perhaps the most explicit when he said, "The capacity of the pipeline is far in excess of the Irving refinery size so the key is to get to a deep water port and be able to put production onto tankers and access international markets. There would certainly be volumes that would go to the Irving refinery, but it would be an export point. The plan is to be able to access tidewater and tankers and move volumes either down to the U.S. Gulf Coast or to Asia or to Europe from Saint John."

Today's news report notes, "Opponents of the project have said there are many environmental concerns that still have to be addressed. ...The Conservation Council of New Brunswick says fishermen are concerned about a rise in supertanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy as a result of the project."

The Financial Post has reported that about 100 crude carriers a year currently bring oil to the Irving deep water port and that this tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy is raising concerns. The Globe and Mail has noted, "(St. Andrew-based Matt) Abbott, who works with the NBCC Action, the advocacy arm of the New Brunswick Conservation Council, (says) the tanker traffic is already disrupting whales and other marine mammals, and a double or tripling of traffic (with the pipeline) will only make matters worse."

That article says, "(Abbott) worries about tanker accidents and pipeline spills into spawning rivers that feed the bay." Today's news report also notes, "Abbott says homeowners also want to know about the possible impact on water supplies and sports fishing groups have expressed concerns about river crossings in the 400 kilometres of the pipeline that will cross the province."

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."

Energy East
At 1.1 million barrels per day, the Energy East pipeline would be bigger than the Keystone XL pipeline (830,000 bpd), the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (from its current 300,000 bpd to 890,000 bpd), and the Northern Gateway pipeline (525,000 bpd). Global News reports, "The Pembina Institute (says) Energy East would lead to the creation of 30 million to 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. That’s about the equivalent of the carbon dioxide created by seven million cars and roughly equal to the eventual reductions achieved by the phasing out the use of coal power in Ontario."

It is expected that TransCanada will seek approval from the National Energy Board for the pipeline this summer. A CBC News investigation found that this regulator "effectively buried" for five years a report that criticized TransCanada for "inadequate" field inspection and "ineffective" management relating to a July 2009 explosion on its Peace River Mainline pipeline on Dene Tha’ First Nation territory in Alberta.

The portion of the Energy East pipeline to Quebec could be converted by 2017, the pipeline extension to New Brunswick could be completed and operational by 2018.