Greenpeace ED Challenge Energy East Benefits

30 10 2014

TJ  OCT 30

Refinery benefits of Energy East quizzed
JOHN CHILIBECK LEGISLATURE BUREAU

Two environmental groups say TransCanada has been misleading the public and investors by repeating false information about its Energy East pipeline and tanker proposal – an accusation the company denies.   Environmental Defence and Greenpeace Canada issued a release Wednesday that stated TransCanada erroneously claimed that Energy East would benefit Canadians because the project would eliminate Canada’s dependence on overseas foreign oil.   Using data available from Statistics Canada, they said most oil flowing to eastern refineries was from the United States, with only a small percentage coming from overseas.   “Energy East will not substantially reduce oil imports into Canada, partly because we’re not importing all that much oil from overseas sources as TransCanada suggests,” said Adam Scott, program manager at Environmental Defence. “We are importing oil from the U.S., but the stats basically show Energy East won’t have that much impact on that. TransCanada has been feeding eastern Canadians false information and false hope about this project.”   Scott said most of the Energy East oil would remain unprocessed and sent directly to markets overseas, something that would largely benefit big energy firms and not most Canadians.   The proposed $12-billion Energy East pipeline would end in Saint John, where Irving Oil would accept western crude at its refinery and a planned export terminal. Irving Oil spokeswoman Samantha Robinson replied by email.   “We believe this project will benefit Canada’s overall economy, in addition to being good for Canadian producers, refiners and consumers,” she said. “Once the Energy East pipeline has been commissioned, we anticipate sourcing a significant amount of crude oil from the pipeline for refining into finished products here in New Brunswick.”   Irving Oil is a private company that does not typically divulge many of its detailed business plans for proprietary and competitive reasons. However, Premier Brian Gallant and other leaders have suggested the project would create short-term jobs during the pipeline and terminal’s construction, and long-term jobs once they are up and running.   The environmentalists pointed out TransCanada has repeatedly stated that eastern Canadian refineries import 86 per cent of their needs from overseas sources of oil, including Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Algeria. But figures from Statistics Canada’s international trade data from January to August show 14.1 per cent of Eastern Canada’s oil imports come from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Nigeria and Venezuela. The same data shows that more than 50 per cent of the crude imported to New Brunswick and Quebec – the only provinces whose refineries would be reached by Energy East – came from the United States.   TransCanada responded with its own statement Wednesday saying the Statistics Canada data backs its own arguments.   “The price of oil or exact percentage of imports are always snapshots in time, but the trends remain consistent,” said TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard.“Today, an overwhelming majority of the oil refined in eastern Canada comes from outside Canada. In fact, as we’ve shown before, about 86 per cent of the oil refined in eastern Canada to make products and meet our domestic needs comes from outside of Canada.”   Howard said Energy East was designed to shift that flow and allow the movement of oil from Western Canada so that eastern refineries can use a more stable, less costly supply of oil.   “Energy East is already underpinned by long-term, binding contracts and our customers know the project will provide greater security and diversity of supply to eastern refineries. This will help lower prices for the refineries simply through competitive pressure, and moving it in the safest and most efficient way possible for Canadians, consumers and our customers.”   He said contrary to claims by professional activists, Canadians would benefit by having more domestic crude produced and refined in their own country.   “It makes our refining industry more competitive (including in Quebec where thousands of jobs have been lost in recent years due to refinery closures), provides high-quality well-paying jobs to skilled workers, allows for significant benefits to flow into communities across the country and allows for the safe and environmentally sustainable development of our natural resources. This is why there is such strong support for Energy East across the country and across political party lines.”   Scott said this was wishful thinking.   “Energy East increases the risk of a massive oil spill across the country as well as where the tanker terminals are proposed in the St. Lawrence River and the Bay of Fundy,” he said. “We’re threatening to sacrifice our fishing and tourism industries in exchange for an export oil pipeline project, and I really question if that is worth it for Canadians.”   TransCanada is filing its Energy East regulatory application with the National Energy Board on Thursday. The national regulatory will ultimately decide if it should go ahead. The project also needs to clear a number of environmental approvals before getting the go-ahead.   Scott acknowledged his group had only published results for the latest six months, but he said the trend is obvious to most observers: Canada is importing more oil from U.S. shale production because it’s cheaper. He claimed that once the pipeline was built, crude from Alberta and Saskatchewan would suddenly command a higher price because it would have an outlet for the Asian and European markets that it doesn’t have now.

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