Canadian regulator closes books on TransCanada project

Oct. 6 (UPI) — A federal regulator in Canada confirmed it closed its files on the Energy East oil pipeline after planner TransCanada folded its tent on the project.

The National Energy Board was among the last in the line of official bodies in Canada to weigh in on TransCanada’s decision to shelve a multibillion dollar pipeline project for eastern provinces. The NEB confirmed late Thursday it received notice that TransCanada was withdrawing its applications.

“The NEB has no further work to complete on these projects and the hearing record is now closed,” the regulator said.

TransCanada last month called on the NEB to suspend its review of the project after the regulator published a lengthy list of issues ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to the risk of an oil spill that could determine whether the project was in the public interest. On Thursday, the company said that “after a careful review” of the changing circumstances it was no longer pursuing the project.

The application for the project, submitted three years ago, detailed the construction of a new 930-mile segment and the conversion of 1,800 miles of gas line for oil service. It would’ve carried 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to eastern Canadian refineries if built.

TransCanada said the Energy East would’ve made eastern Canadian refineries more competitive because they’d be sourced by domestic crude, though critics countered it would serve primarily as an export project.

The company can still send crude oil across the United States to southern Gulf Coast ports through its Keystone XL pipeline, though Canada’s oil is still relatively landlocked to North America.

With few other options left for getting Canadian oil to markets outside of North America, Rachel Notely, the premier in oil-rich Alberta, said the emphasis should now move behind a project planned by pipeline company Kinder Morgan.

“This decision highlights the importance of diversifying market access and the subsequent national priority that must be placed on the Trans Mountain expansion project,” she said in a statement.

The NEB approved of Kinder Morgan’s plans to triple the capacity of the west-bound Trans Mountain network to around 890,000 barrels of oil per day in November, though vetting is still under way for some aspects. Western Canadian leaders have expressed concerns about the project and in early August, British Columbian Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman and Attorney General David Eby said they secured legal counsel to challenge the project.

The NEB completed a pre-construction audit in September and found planners haven’t yet laid out plans regarding safety and environmental protection during the build process. Route hearings for Trans Mountain are scheduled in British Columbia next year.

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