TransCanada mulling pipeline options after regulatory review

Company wants a 30-day suspension to its application for a project meant to send oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to eastern markets.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Sept. 8, 2017 at 9:04 AM
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Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Pipeline company TransCanada said it was reviewing its options for Canadian pipeline infrastructure because of changes made by regulatory authorities.

The company said it was asking the National Energy Board for a 30-day suspension on the applications for its Energy East project.

"The suspension will allow time to conduct a careful review of recent changes announced by the NEB regarding the list of issues and environmental assessment factors of the projects while understanding how these changes impact the projects' costs, schedules and viability," the company said in a statement.

The NEB said in late August it was reviewing the potential for greenhouse gas emissions when determining whether or not the project was in the public interest. A hearing panel added that the public's interest would be better served with a clearer picture of the possible risks from the project, including the potential for an oil spill.

"A broad range of topics will be covered by the NEB's assessment, including Indigenous participation in the projects throughout their lifecycles, landowner and municipal considerations, cumulative environmental effects, as well as socio-economic elements," the regulator said.

TransCanada submitted its application for the project in 2014, proposing the construction of a new 930-mile segment and converting 1,800 miles of gas line for oil service. It's designed to carry 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to eastern Canadian refineries.

The company said the new direction would make eastern Canadian refineries more competitive because they'd be sourced by domestic crude and bring in more than $7 billion in tax revenues during its first 20 years of operation. The pipeline could offset regional imports of 700,000 barrels of oil per day, though critics countered it would serve primarily as an export project.

Because of the "significant changes" to the regulatory process from the NEB, TransCanada said it halted some of the funding allocations for construction.

"Apart from Energy East, we will continue to advance our $24 billion [$19.8 billion USD] near-term capital program in addition to our longer-term opportunities," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive.

It's the latest setback for the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline through the United States. Malaysia energy company Petronas in July said that, as the head of a partnership, it was no longer pursuing a liquefied natural gas project at Port Edward in British Columbia because of an "extremely challenging environment" brought on by a weak market. TransCanada was a project partner.

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