Mainly because Wall wants EnergyEast.

Ontario and Quebec Premiers Wynne and Couillard are welcoming Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. He is making sales calls on behalf of TransCanada’s EnergyEast pipeline. He will probably be wearing one of those big white hats that most oil men like to affect. Not that Wall is really an oil man but he would like to think that eventually Saskatchewan’s shale gas and oil will start to flow east and maybe some of the Cold Lake tar sands bitumen that lies in Saskatchewan. It might never match dollar volumes of Saskatchewan’s potash mines but it is not small potatoes either.

Mind you, Wall seems to have some funny ideas about the value of the EnergyEast pipeline proposal that the National Energy Board in Calgary is now considering. In an op-ed in the Toronto Star the other day signed by Wall, he is reported to believe that the EnergyEast line will move conventional oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Eastern refineries to replace oil now imported from the Algeria, Iraq and the United States.

Since the Hardisty terminus seems to be planned for use by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) as the main pipeline feed for tar sands bitumen, the EnergyEast pipeline would be heated and under twice the pressure of a normal crude oil pipeline. It would not be of interest to most eastern refineries because of the pollution that goes with refining bitumen. The advantage of the EnergyEast pipeline to the CAPP members is that the tankers from the United States as well as from Algeria and Iraq would still unload their crude oil cargoes for Eastern refineries and then would take on cargoes of tar sands bitumen for countries that do not care about the pollution.

But somebody has to care. Couillard and Wynne might not be aware of the vast areas of tailing ponds in Alberta from tar sands extraction that are destroying that province’s environment. They do not seem to be aware that converting bitumen to usable oil products creates three times the pollution of normal refinery processing.

All that Mr. Wall seems to care about is the money.

EnergyEast is a proposal that will see an old gas pipeline through Ontario converted to pumping more than a million barrels a day of diluted bitumen. It will never be a question of if there are leaks. It is a question of how often and how bad.

In Quebec, EnergyEast is supposed to be built to a terminus on the St. Lawrence before heading south down to the Saint John River Valley to the Irving ocean tanker docks at Saint John. The Irvings do not want the pollution caused by refining bitumen.

The Ontario and Quebec premiers will be polite to Premier Wall. They will note that he makes a very desperate sales pitch.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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