FREDERICTON – British Columbia’s opposition to the Northern Gateway project puts greater attention on a proposal to build a west-to-east oil pipeline, New Brunswick Premier David Alward said on the eve of a meeting with his Alberta counterpart, Alison Redford.
The two will get together Friday to discuss the idea of shipping oil from Alberta as far east as Saint John in their continued efforts to promote a development they say will bring jobs and ensure greater energy security for the country.
Their meeting comes a week after the government of B.C. told a federal review panel that the Northern Gateway should not go ahead as it’s proposed — a declaration that Alward says could lift his case, though not at the expense of that project.
“It brings into focus the importance of this project,” Alward said Thursday in an interview.
“We need to see a project in British Columbia as much as we need to see a project go all the way to the East Coast because we need to see opportunities for diversified markets.”
Redford will deliver a speech to the New Brunswick legislature Friday morning before heading to Saint John to speak with the city’s board of trade and tour the Irving Oil refinery, Canada’s largest.
Her visit comes four months after Alward conducted a similar trip to Alberta, where he toured the oilsands.
“I’m looking forward to her message about the potential of the pipeline and why she believes, just as I do, that it makes sense, not only for our two provinces, but for all Canadians,” Alward said.
The meeting also comes before a June 17 deadline by TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) to receive binding commitments from oil producers. It needs those commitments before deciding whether to convert an existing 3,000-kilometre natural gas pipeline to carry crude into Quebec, with the possibility of a 1,400-kilometre extension to Saint John.
Alward said he is confident the proposal, known as the Energy East Pipeline project, can stand on merit.
“We will see the results in the coming weeks,” he said.
If there is sufficient commitment for the TransCanada project, the company would need to file necessary regulatory applications.
TransCanada has said the project could begin shipping as much as 850,000 barrels of oil per day in late 2017.
Geoff Hill, an oil and gas sector leader at Deloitte Canada, said there is a need to strengthen Canada’s access to markets when it comes to exporting oil.
“We are in dire straits right now in terms of getting our product out, ” Hill said.
“This pipeline, in our opinion, is very exciting for Canada, for all the provinces in between as well, and it’s a very solid opportunity for us.”
Hill agreed with Alward’s position that the west-to-east pipeline can co-exist with the Northern Gateway proposal by Enbridge (TSX:ENB).
“These projects need to be considered Canadian projects as opposed to provincial projects because the fundamental economics say that, let alone the fact that as a country we need to set this as a priority,” he said.