So you want to build a pipeline, you say? Well, for starters, check out this photo that the National Energy Board (NEB) tweeted out last week showing TransCanada’s submitted application. (insert photo). Still want to build a pipeline? That photo shows 11 boxes consisting of 68 binders and 30,000 pages of documents all pertaining to TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline proposal, which has been on the table for over a year now. That is what goes into a pipeline application, so I’d say it’s a pretty serious matter.
Unfortunately, you have to crawl before you can walk—and you have to walk before you can run. The application process is one of the first of many steps the pipeline has to scratch and claw its way through before it can even begin to think about being completed. Currently, the Energy East Pipeline project has the following major components:
- Converting an existing natural gas pipeline to an oil transportation pipeline
- Constructing new pipelines in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Eastern Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick to link up with the converted pipe.
- Constructing the associated facilities, pump station and tank terminals required to move crude oil from Alberta to Quebec and New Brunswick, including marine facilities that tenable access to other markets by ship.
The pipeline, if approved, would stretch 4,600 kilometers and run from west to east and connect the oil resources of Alberta and Saskatchewan with the refineries and port terminals of Quebec and New Brunswick. Not to mention, the project is expected to cost a whopping $12 billion.
The process of getting the pipeline completed and fully functional is a long and difficult one. The NEB first has to verify the application is complete, and Canadian law requires the regulator to decide whether to support the project in no more than a 15-month window. That 15-month window gives them until roughly early February, 2016 to make a recommendation to the federal cabinet, at which point Ottawa would then have three months to make a final decision. If approved, TransCanada could have a green light by the spring of 2016 and shipments could begin by late 2018.
Opponents of the Energy East pipeline have already been vocal just days after the application was submitted to the NEB. Landowners have come out publically asking TransCanada to re-route the pipeline around their land and have also denied participation in land surveys conducted by TransCanada. Environmental Defence, a Canadian organization that fights to protect Canadians’ environment and human health, has even gone as far as opening a photo exhibit in Toronto titled, “Exposing Energy East.”
While much of the opposition to the pipeline is based in Ontario, a TransCanada-funded study argues the benefits to Canada’s most populous province will actually far outweigh the negatives in Alberta.
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