CALGARY — The proposed Energy East pipeline won’t be the boon to Eastern Canadian refineries that supporters claim because the vast majority of the oil in it would be bound for export markets, environmental groups argue in a report being released Tuesday.
The $12-billion project would likely use the lion’s share of its 1.1 million barrel per day capacity to send unrefined oilsands 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.
The pipeline would run 4,600 kilometres from Alberta to Saint John, N.B., using repurposed pipe already in the ground for roughly two thirds of the way.
The company planning to build it, TransCanada Corp., aims to file a formal regulatory application this summer. It’s been actively engaging with communities along the route in an effort to build support.
Backers in industry and government have said Energy East will help ailing refineries in the East — reliant on high-cost crude from abroad — by connecting them with a stable, low-cost supply from Western Canada. The proposal also includes export terminals in Quebec and Saint John, N.B., from which some of oil can be sent overseas by tanker, getting producers a better price for their crude.
But Tuesday’s report says the three refineries along the Energy East route — Suncor Energy’s in Montreal, Valero’s near Quebec City and Irving’s in Saint John, — have a combined capacity of 672,000 barrels per day.
Of that, the groups figure 550,000 barrels per day can come from elsewhere — offshore crude in Atlantic Canada, booming U.S. shale resources and, eventually, via Enbridge Inc.’s recently approved reversed Line 9 pipeline between southwestern Ontario and Montreal. That leaves just 122,000 barrels per day of refining capacity that can be served by Energy East, the report says.
“It’s very frustrating to watch a company trying to convince Canadians that they should accept these massive risks based on some perceived benefit that they may receive. When you dig into it, you find that it’s an empty promise,” said Adam Scott, with Environmental Defence.
“It’s just not true that Eastern Canada’s going to benefit in the way that TransCanada’s saying they are. And when you look and see that this is a project about putting vast quantities of oil onto tankers and shipping them out of the country, people who are convinced that ’this is going to mean more local jobs for me’ are going to be very disappointed.”
Energy East pipeline boon for refineries an ‘empty promise’ because most oil will go overseas: Report | Financial Post