News Canada

Government supports west-east oil pipeline

Mark Dunn. (Andre Forget/QMI Agency)

By Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

OTTAWA — The Conservative government nudged Washington on Tuesday to decide on the Keystone XL oil pipeline by endorsing a plan to carry Alberta crude to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said it's in the "national interest" to support TransCanada's proposal — subject to regulatory approvals and environmental reviews — to move 850,000 barrels a day east.

The 4,400-km Energy East Pipeline would convert 3,000 km of gas lines to oil and construct the remainder to carry crude to refineries in Montreal, Quebec City and Saint John, N.B., that refine imported oil for domestic consumption.

"If we do not build pipelines, the oil will be stranded and all the potential economic benefits that would flow from that would be lost," Oliver said, adding Canada loses $50 million a day because oil isn't getting to market.

He said the benefits would include jobs, tax revenues, energy independence, national security and suggested India would become a major importer because of its growing energy needs.

"This particular project, assuming it achieves regulatory approval, will lessen or perhaps eliminate dependency on higher costs of foreign oil," he said.

Calgary's TransCanada believes oil could begin flowing in 2017 if regulatory hurdles and environmental reviews are successful.

The proposal is unlikely to meet political interference in Parliament because the NDP endorses a west-east line. Environmentalists and some aboriginal groups oppose pipelines of any sort.

TransCanada said Tuesday it's looking for partners to get the project moving before it applies for regulatory approval.

It is also awaiting word from the White House on its Keystone pipeline to Texas after months of delays.

Mark.Dunn@sunmedia.ca

Twitter:MarkDunnSun

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