The Ontario government has announced it plans to hold a comprehensive public review of the Energy East Pipeline project. TransCanada will take part in that review process to ensure decisions about this critical piece of Canada’s energy infrastructure are based on fact.
“We welcome the opportunity to get the facts out about the benefits of Energy East, and the process Ontario’s Energy Minister has outlined will give us another opportunity to do that in an objective and transparent manner,” said Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines.
Minister Bob Chiarelli announced on Nov. 13 that the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) will undertake province-wide consultations on the Energy East project, providing an opportunity for all Ontarians, including First Nation and Metis communities, and stakeholders to share their views on the proposed pipeline. The OEB’s review will inform Ontario’s participation in the National Energy Board’s approval process for the pipeline.
Chiarelli said that Ontario supports an expanded and diverse supply of energy across Canada and acknowledges the potential economic benefits of the Energy East project. At the same time, he said the province wants to ensure the project is in the best interest of Ontarians by examining how the project will address public safety and environmental protection, as well as ensuring the reliability of Ontario’s natural gas supply and establishing future benefits for the province’s economy.
“We agree with the Minister that it is critical for pipelines to be operated in a safe and responsible manner while protecting the environment,” Pourbaix said. “The safe, responsible and reliable operation of all of our assets has been TransCanada’s focus for over 60 years and will remain so. We take this commitment very seriously.”
TransCanada announced the $12-billion Energy East Pipeline project on August 1 and has begun extensive public outreach, including holding 60 open houses in communities along the proposed route across Canada. The project involves converting approximately 3,000 kilometres of existing natural gas pipe in our Canadian Mainline between Alberta and Quebec to crude oil service and building approximately 1,500 kilometres of new pipeline to access refineries and export terminals in Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick.
TransCanada has previously converted natural gas pipelines to oil service safely. The most recent example is the conversion of Line One of the Canadian Mainline between Alberta and Winnipeg for our existing Keystone Pipeline, which has safely delivered more than 500 million barrels of oil to the U.S. since it began operation three years ago. Safety is our top priority. In 2012 alone, TransCanada invested $1 billion in pipeline integrity and proactive inspection and maintenance programs to protect our pipelines. We are planning on spending the same amount this year.
On September 10, TransCanada released an independent economic analysis of Energy East conducted by Deloitte that found that in Ontario, the project will generate a total of 2,452 direct full-time jobs, including 2,271 during the development and construction phase from 2013 to 2018 and 181 jobs during the 40 year operations of the pipeline. Thousands of indirect and induced jobs are also expected to be generated by the project in Ontario and across all provinces along the route.
TransCanada has also assured the Government of Ontario and local natural gas distribution companies in Ontario and Quebec that they will still receive the natural gas consumers need to heat their homes and run their businesses especially during the cold winter months.
“We guarantee TransCanada will meet the needs of all existing gas shippers that have reserved and committed to pay for pipeline capacity,” said Karl Johannson, TransCanada’s president of natural gas pipelines. “We will ensure this is the case before portions of the Mainline are removed from gas service for Energy East. Ontario and Quebec gas customers will continue to get the gas they need to heat their homes, especially during the cold winter months. TransCanada has provided these assurances in writing to the Ontario and Quebec governments and local gas distribution companies.”
Johannson adds if further pipeline capacity is needed to serve new firm markets, the costs of serving TransCanada’s existing and new customers will be no higher than they would have been if Energy East had not been constructed. In other words, the cost of firm gas transmission to eastern markets for both existing and new customers may be lower and certainly will be no higher as a result of Energy East.