National Energy Board says final report on Energy East to be out by March 2018

MONTREAL – The National Energy Board’s final report on the Energy East pipeline project should be completed by March 2018, the federal regulator announced Tuesday.

Consultations with communities along the proposed pipeline route will begin this August and a preliminary timeline has the report being issued 19 months later.

The fate of the pipeline ultimately rests with the federal government, which will take the NEB’s final report into account before announcing a decision on the project.

Ottawa will also be presented with Quebec’s ruling on the pipeline, which is scheduled to come down in June 2018.

The Quebec government recently announced a revised schedule of hearings into the portion of the pipeline that travels over its territory, telling the company promoting the pipeline in a letter that public consultations should resume in October.

Quebec’s BAPE (the French-language acronym for the environment review body) should have its report on the project ready by February, the letter stated, followed by another review of the project by the provincial Environment Department in March 2018.

The letter to TransCanada (TSX:TRP) states the Quebec government could have its decision ready a few months after that.

Hearings into the Quebec portion of the project were scheduled to resume this week but were suspended after TransCanada agreed to the provincial government’s request to provide more detailed information about the pipeline.

Energy East would bring 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan through Quebec and into New Brunswick for overseas shipping.

The first hearings before the BAPE wrapped up in March with citizens from across the province grilling TransCanada executives on the risks and costs associated with the pipeline.

Energy East is popular in Western Canada but has encountered stiff opposition in Quebec, with politicians, citizens and ecologists arguing the environmental risks outweigh the economic rewards.