Support builds among premiers to ship Alberta oil to Eastern Canada

The Canadian Press
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz shares a laugh with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger at the closing news conference of the premiers' economic summit in Halifax on Friday, November 23, 2012.

HALIFAX — A proposal to ship oil from Alberta to Eastern Canadian markets is drawing support from a growing number of premiers who say it could help stimulate the economy while serving as the foundation for a national energy strategy.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford said she was delighted Friday to see her provincial counterparts back the idea following a discussion she had with Quebec Premier Pauline Marois the night before.

“We are pleased by the fact that there are so many provinces that are interested in talking about what the challenges and opportunities are,” Redford said after a meeting of the premiers in Halifax.

“This is an important policy discussion for us to have and there’s absolutely no reason to think that this is in any way what I would call an exclusive discussion.”

Redford and Marois have agreed to set up working groups to examine the economic benefits and environmental risks of pumping Albertan crude through Quebec.

Redford said she has also been in discussions for several months with New Brunswick Premier David Alward about the feasibility of shipping oil to his province.

“This is driven by the private sector and this ultimately will work if the private sector believes there is a business case and opportunity for that to happen,” said Alward, whose province is home to a large refinery in Saint John owned by Irving Oil.

“This is a project that has to go from Alberta, potentially to Saint John, and so it’s not about one province or another.”

The latest plan would reverse the flow of an existing pipeline to bring Alberta oil to customers in the eastern half of Canada, and could result in slightly lower gasoline prices in that region. The project is being reviewed by the National Energy Board.

There are actually two proposals to ship western crude to the East, including one by Enbridge Inc. and another by TransCanada Corp.

The Enbridge proposal involves expanding capacity on some pipes in the Great Lakes region and reversing the flow of another between Montreal and Sarnia, Ont.

Rival TransCanada plans to convert some of its empty natural gas mainline to oil. The company behind the contentious Keystone XL pipeline is looking to sound out customer interest in the East in the new year.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Friday he was encouraged that Marois is keeping an open mind about the possibility of oil flowing through Quebec’s borders.

“I think that’s obviously very positive because, in our view, the whole issue of resource development, which is so critical to the future prosperity of Canada, can only be done in co-operation with all levels of government,” Oliver said after giving a speech to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.

Oliver touted the benefits of a West-East oil flow, which he argued would create jobs in Eastern Canada and reduce prices at the pumps for consumers.

“In addition to being a key job creator, it would allow us to use our own Canadian oil and reduce the costly foreign oil imports — a considerable savings,” said Oliver, who added that 92 per cent of the oil consumed by Quebecers comes from outside markets.

Prior to the premiers’ meeting, Manitoba’s Greg Selinger said the idea presents an opportunity to build national energy security, stimulate private investment in the East and expand market opportunities for petroleum producers in the West.

“I think it’s a good story for all of us if we do it properly,” Selinger said.

Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia’s Darrell Dexter have also voiced their support.

The talk of reversing the flow of oil came the same day as Statistics Canada released a study saying gas consumers in Central and Eastern Canada are being hit harder than those in the West because of a growing price gap between the types of crude refineries in both parts of the country use.

Refineries in the East import a lot of their crude from overseas, which has been driven higher by conflicts in the Middle East and growing demand from China.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said the proposed development does little to change her government’s fierce opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline running through her province if it doesn’t secure greater economic benefits.

She said her province has set five conditions in order to allow a pipeline to the Pacific and it isn’t budging from that position.

“The world’s best spill response on land and on the marine side,” she said. “Nothing less than that will meet the expectations of British Columbians.”



Organizations: Enbridge Inc., TransCanada Corp., Irving Oil National Energy Board Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal Statistics Canada

Geographic location: Alberta, Eastern Canada, Quebec HALIFAX Middle East Saint John New Brunswick Great Lakes Montreal Sarnia West-East Manitoba Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia Central and Eastern Canada China British Columbia Pacific

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Don Smith
    November 25, 2012 - 13:44

    Are the 60 yr. old storage tanks at the West side of the Hillsborough Bridge empty,and why are they taking the Insulation of and checking them? What about the old tankers that unload in the Harbour,has anyone noticed that?What are tanker trucks loading at these storage tanks,perhaps milk. LOL

  • SG
    November 24, 2012 - 12:05

    To DON: I am thinking of the Spill down South. I mentioned that in my first comment. Yes the pipeline can be shut off but how much of an oil leak will there be before anyone knows there is leak is the question. I'm all for cheaper oil. I imagine every Province in Canada is. However, I don't want cheaper oil at the expense of our Environment. Our Environment including our Rivers and Streams have many problems now. If we had an oil spill it would take decades before our Environment recovered. Also I feel we have to protect our Fishing and Farm Industries. We don't have many Business entities to fall back on if our Fishing and Farming Industries are affected. I hope our Premier will put our Environment First. I'm sure No Oil Company wants an Oil Leak but accidents happen regardless of how many safety features are put in place.

  • don
    November 24, 2012 - 05:45

    SG. but i wonder what about nfld that wants to set up and oil rig then just think if they have an oil spill.we are more then least with a pipe line it can be shut off. just think back to bp oil spill down south.but British Columbia Premier Christy Clark i can see her point but i wonder how she would feel if it was in reverse? i think it is also called Shelvish.

  • SG
    November 23, 2012 - 21:54

    I agree with B.C. Premier Christy Clark. She said her province has set five conditions in order to allow a pipeline to the Pacific and it isn’t budging from that position.“The world’s best spill response on land and on the marine side,” she said. “Nothing less than that will meet the expectations of British Columbians.” Premier Robert Ghiz and the Atlantic Premiers should give their full attention to B.C. Clark's statement. All we need on PEI is an Oil Spill. Our Rivers and Streams have their share of toxins and pollutants now. Our Salmon and Fish are disappearing. You can't Replace Nature. Remember the Spill in the US. It took place in a Ocean ask their residents how long it will take before their Environment, Wildlife will be normal again! Money can't solve all problems.

    • Am Marc
      November 23, 2012 - 22:12

      @SG, we already have oil shipped on to the Island. What is your point?

  • don
    November 23, 2012 - 21:23

    British Columbia Premier Christy Clark. i bet you want 110% profit from the oil line and que wants the same. greed will get you know where. greed has never won .

    • Wendell Collings
      November 23, 2012 - 23:52

      Apparentyl The Guardian will not allow me to post a comment about the article which they printed in their newspaper and this is not allowing me to express my opinions in public.I have been civil in expressing my opinions and there should be no problem in airing them.