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New pipeline would run through region

  • The pipeline as it crosses St-Charles Ave. at exit 36 of the Trans-Canada.
    The pipeline as it crosses St-Charles Ave. at exit 36 of the Trans-Canada.
    Photo credit: Jason Magder/ The Gazette

TransCanada Corporation announced Wednesday it will build a new pipeline linking Alberta with oil refineries in Montreal, Quebec City and St. John, New Brunswick.

The new $12 billion pipeline will pass through the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, according to the proposal that will be submitted in the next few weeks to the National Energy Board.

John Van Der Put, the vice president of the Energy East Pipeline, said the preliminary route would see the pipeline enter Quebec west of Rigaud, and then cross over the Ottawa River, before heading east through the area north of Laval, following the route of Highway 50 in some parts, before winding south back to Montreal East’s Suncor refinery.

He said the project wouldn’t follow the Trans-Canada mainline pipeline which transports natural gas through St-Lazare, and Vaudreuil-Dorion, before ending in Senneville, at the western tip of Montreal. The company wants to build the new pipeline through less populated areas.

He said the project would bring many benefits to the region.

“The goal of the project is to make Western Canadian crude available to Eastern Canadian refineries that currently import 85 per cent of their crude from overseas locations at prices that are significantly higher than the price of crude in Western Canada,” Van Der Put said. “It provides new markets for Western Canadian producers, and a new more reliable, stable source of supply for Eastern Canadian refineries.”

Guy-Lin Beaudoin, the general manager of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges regional county, said the region has nothing against the pipeline, but wants assurances that it can be built and managed in a safe manner.

“What we need is a fair process,” he said.

The pipeline would be the subject of environment assessment hearings conducted by the National Energy Board, a body of the federal government. Trans-Canada expects to present its proposal by next year, and to get a decision by 2015, for construction to begin the following year.

This is the second major energy company to propose pumping western crude oil through the region.

This past winter, Enbridge asked the National Energy board for permission to reverse its 9B pipeline, to allow oil to flow from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal. That pipeline also cuts through Rigaud, as well as St-Justine-de-Newton and Très-Saint-Rédempteur.

The region has highlighted its concerns about that proposal because the National Energy Board has found that Enbridge’s pipeline doesn’t currently meet the safety standards in the event of a spill on its network. Beaudoin said the county will make a representation to NEB hearings this month asking that the safety mechanisms conform to the minimal standards before permission is given to reverse the flow.

Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, welcomed the TransCanada announcement on Energy East but said the federal government would also work to ensure pipelines are safe.

“Our government welcomes the prospect of transporting Canadian crude oil from Western Canada to consumers and refineries in Eastern Canada and ultimately to new markets abroad,” Oliver said in a statement.

“Initiatives like this could allow Canadian refineries to process more potentially lower-priced Canadian oil, enhancing Canada’s energy security and making our country less reliant on foreign oil,” he said.

However, the statement also added that the Harper government “will only allow energy projects to proceed if they are proven safe for Canadians after an independent, science-based environmental and regulatory review.”

— With files from Canadian Press

jmagder@montrealgazette.com
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