Energy East: Irving vs. Irving

26 02 2015

Irving-backed pipeline route meets Irving-owned forest interests

Geoffrey Morgan | February 25, 2015 | Last Updated: Feb 26 11:09 AM ET More from Geoffrey Morgan | @geoffreymorgan

Storage tanks stand at the Irving Oil Ltd. refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.

Aaron McKenzie Fraser/BloombergStorage tanks stand at the Irving Oil Ltd. refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.
CALGARY – The Irving family, one of Canada’s richest and New Brunswick’s most powerful, appears to be at odds over the routing of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East pipeline.
J.D. Irving, Ltd. (JDI), the family-owned forest products, logistics and shipbuilding company headed by James K. Irving and sons James D. and Robert, has filed an application with the National Energy Board saying it is “vitally concerned” about the portion of the pipeline that would pass through its Crown-leased lands in New Brunswick. JDI’s application said the company is concerned about Energy East’s “commercial impacts and environmental effects” on the company’s forestry and other businesses as well as the “appropriateness of the general route and land requirements for the project in New Brunswick” relative to JDI’s operations. “Based on communication and discussion with Energy East, JDI anticipates that about 25% of the planned Energy East project route in New Brunswick, slightly in excess of 100 kilometres, will cross about 55 separate parcels of its freehold land, and that close to 70 kilometres of the route will cross Crown lands under long-term forestry licence to JDI,” the company says in the application, filed Monday. The issue pits JDI against a partnership that includes family-owned Irving Oil.

Handout/Irving Oil

Handout/Irving OilArthur Irving (right) and Kenneth Irving in front of the Irving Oil Refinery in Saint John, NB.

The oil company is a partner with TransCanada in the marine terminal at the end point of the $12-billion project. Irving Oil, led by James K. Irving’s brother Arthur Irving, has been a vocal supporter of Energy East and has committed to refine a minimum of 50,000 barrels of oil per day delivered through the pipeline once it’s built. Both Irving Oil and the businesses run through JDI were started by James’ and Arthur’s father, the late K.C. Irving, though ownership of the various companies bearing the Irving name has been split up between K.C.’s children. JDI, for example, does not have a stake in either the refinery or the port facilities at the end point of the Energy East route, the company’s vice-president of communications Mary Keith confirmed in an email. Irving Oil did not respond to a request for comment. Ms. Keith also tempered JDI’s concerns about the Energy East pipeline route in an email. She said the company supports Energy East, had a good relationship with TransCanada “and we are supportive of the positive economic impacts the Energy East project will have in New Brunswick.” “Filing as a ‘participant’ is a routine business matter to ensure we receive all of the relevant information as the pipeline application proceeds,” Ms. Keith said. JDI’s application to the NEB did not specify how TransCanada or the regulator could address the Saint John-based company’s concerns about the route.

Aaron McKenzie Fraser/Bloomberg

Aaron McKenzie Fraser/BloombergA storage tank stand at the Irving Oil Ltd. refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick.

“You can’t build a project like this — more than 400 kilometres of new pipeline from top to bottom in New Brunswick — without coming across J.D. Irving. That’s just a reality,” TransCanada spokesperson Tim Duboyce said in an interview. Energy East would transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick and could be in service by 2018. Both Arthur Irving and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna had been early supporters of the project, which in addition to weaning Eastern Canadian refineries off imports of foreign oil, would allow Western Canadian producers to reach growing oil refining markets in India. At least so far, neither James K. Irving nor his sons has played a major role in the pipeline project. “Of course there have been conversations with J.D. Irving all along the way,” Mr. Duboyce said, adding that JDI’s application to participate in the review hearing contained “no surprises” for TransCanada. The NEB has so far received 760 applications to participate in hearings on the Energy East pipeline project, board spokesperson Katherine Murphy said in an interview. The deadline for additional applications is March 3, and a list of approved participants is expected by the middle of the year, Ms. Murphy said.

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