TransCanada CEO reinforces practicality of pipelines at Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference
Pipelines remain a much safer alternative to transporting crude oil products than rail, barge or trucks, TransCanada President & CEO Russ Girling said as part of an address August 22 in Winnipeg.
“We think Canadians would rather have a pipeline buried four feet underground than trains loaded with oil driving through the heart of homes and neighbourhoods,” Girling told federal, provincial and territorial ministers gathered for the annual Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference (EMMC).
“The Energy East Pipeline will have the capacity to displace the equivalent of 1,570 rail cars of crude oil per day to eastern Canada.
“(Additionally), Energy East will be connected to two refineries in Québec and one in New Brunswick, minimizing or even eliminating the delivery of oil to these locations by rail.”
Requirement to transport crude oil not going away anytime soon
The reality, said Girling, is that the requirement to transport crude oil safely through current and proposed pipelines like Energy East is not going away any time soon.
“Despite our collective efforts to make greener energy choices, the reality is that the demand for hydrocarbons will continue to grow worldwide over the next 20, 30 years,” he said.
“I and other leaders in the energy sector have acknowledged the world is moving to a lower carbon economy and as a result, emissions need to and will continue to be reduced.
“That transition to emission-less energy will take time, and right now the world needs all forms of energy. ”
Oil products crucial to a functioning society
Oil plays a larger role than just fueling our cars in our day-to-day lives, Girling said.
The facts: Doctor’s offices and emergency room necessities like stethoscopes, syringes, gloves, bandages and even surgical supplies like heart valves and oxygen masks are made using petroleum products.
“Hydrocarbons make plastics, pharmaceuticals and synthetic clothing,” Girling said. “They create fertilizers and pesticides to improve crop yields, reduce food prices and improve nutrition.
“And if we look at the technologies that help us succeed in our professional and social lives like computers, smart phones, credit cards and toys, they all rely on the use of petroleum.”
From a historical perspective, additional societal benefits that come from transportation of oil, as well as natural gas, are also well documented.
Pipelines pay for schools, roads, hospitals, daycare
The provincial site of the conference, Manitoba, is a prime example.
“TransCanada has had a strong presence in Manitoba for over 65 years, with 75 employees operating and maintaining 3,000 kilometres of natural gas and crude oil pipelines,” Girling said.
“In 2014, we paid over $22 million in property taxes to municipalities in Manitoba to help fund the building of roads, hospitals and schools.
“That number increased to more than $23 million in 2015.”
Fast forward again to Energy East where $17 billion currently spent importing oil would remain here in Canada.
“Simple economics tells us keeping billions in our country and not sending it abroad benefits all Canadians,” he said. “It’s money for schools, roads, daycare and all of the services we count on and need so that we can enjoy the quality of life we are so accustomed to.”
Energy East will reduce GHG emissions
The environment benefits as well.
“Energy East is …the best way to transport oil as pipelines operate using electrical motors,” Girling said.
“It will produce far fewer GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions than if the same amount of oil was transported by trains, barges or trucks.
“Overall, the pipeline will reduce the amount of oil being transported by these methods and – according to an independent report – GHG emissions from oil transport actually decline due to the Energy East project.”
Conversely, Canada currently imports 700,000 barrels of oil each day to feed Canadian refineries – oil from Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, Venezuela.
“All are hardly bastions of having respect for the rule of law or having environmental protection laws that even come close to what we have here in Canada,” said Girling.
“And more recently far better than the reality of oil from the U.S. moving by rail car.”
TransCanada doing its part in tackling climate change
Meanwhile TransCanada continues to do its part in tackling climate change, including:
- Investing over $5 billion in emission-less energy projects, including one of the largest Canadian wind farms in Québec, the largest wind farm in Maine, hydro power facilities in the northeastern United States, the world’s largest nuclear facility in Ontario and numerous solar power facilities also in Ontario.
- Supporting climate change and carbon pricing policy that allows for sustainable and environmentally responsible natural resource development and provides flexibility to accommodate the specific needs of various provinces and states.
“We also feel that new policy is clear as to impacts and opportunities; it needs to be transparent, fair to current and future participants in the energy markets and provides the certainty required to attract capital investment,” Girling added.
“The process for developing this policy must be the result of inclusive, transparent and meaningful consultation with all impacted, including the energy industry.”