Canada: Closed for business?

By Krystle Holdegaard

Canada is experiencing a major energy crisis. It seems almost impossible to build a pipeline that will transport our ethically produced oil to anyone other than our neighbor, the United States. The Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) has received an abundance of media attention because of its journey through the approval process, but it isn’t the first pipeline to experience this fate. For the past ten years Canada has struggled to build new pipelines. Projects had to jump through hoops only to get stuck in limbo for years, waiting to be delayed or cancelled due to the goal posts being moved.

The industry is used to the normal wave of highs and lows, but this time it’s different. Canadians are still feeling the crash of 2014. In November of 2018, WCS and WTI differentials reached over $40 per barrel. Canadian oil was selling at the low price of$11.43 per barrel, while the American benchmark was selling at $53.43. In the current environment, Canada cannot reach the growing global demand for oil. As a short term solution, the Albertan provincial government announced an 8.7 percent production cut to help curb the differentials, and it worked. Almost immediately the price of oil saw an increase of a couple dollars. However, the long-term solution would be to expand Canada’s pipeline network, get people back to work, and finally hang the “Open For Business” sign in the window.

Energy East

The proposed Energy East pipeline would deliver diluted bitumen from Western Canada to New Brunswick, and with the length being 4,600 kilometres, it would have been the longest pipeline in North America.Energy East generated controversy in many areas. The proposed route crossed through many communities and the territory of 180 Indigenous groups, most of which strongly opposed it. The project’s upstream impact was estimated at 30 to 32 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year and under pressure from activists, the federal government wanted the greenhouse gas emissions examined as part of the NEB review process.

•  On August 1, 2013, Energy East was announced

• In October 2014, TransCanada Pipelines filed its formal project application with the NEB.

•  On October 5, 2017 the project was cancelled.

Keystone XL

The Keystone Pipeline System is a series of four phases of pipeline that delivers oil from Canada to the United States. The first three phases are complete and operational.

The proposed Keystone XL route would start in Hardisty, Alberta (same as phase one), and make its way to Steele City, Nebraska.The Canadian section would consist of 526 kilometres of new pipeline.

• On November 6, 2015, the Obama administration rejected Keystone XL after more than six years of review and the initial approval by the US State Department.

• On January 24, 2017, the Trump administration took action intended to permit the pipeline’s completion.

• On January 18, 2018, TransCanada announced they had secured commitments to ship 500,000 barrels per day for 20 years. Construction was set to start in 2019.

• On November 8, 2018, a federal judge in Montana blocked construction due to it failing to comply with federal environmental regulations.

Northern Gateway

Northern Gateway was a project to build a twin pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia. The eastbound pipeline would have imported natural gas and the westbound pipeline would have exported diluted bitumen.

•  In 2006, the Northern Gateway pipeline was announced.

• On December 4, 2009, the NEB and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) issued the Joint Review Panel Agreement and the terms of reference for the environmental and regulatory review.

• On May 27, 2010, Enbridge submitted its project application to the NEB, to be assessed by the Joint Review Panel (JRP) (established by the NEB and CEAA).

• On January 19, 2011, the JRP requested additional information on the design and risk assessment of the pipelines due to the difficult access and unique geographic location of the proposed project.

•  On June 17, 2014, the federal government approved the proposal.

• On May 6, 2016, Enbridge filed a request with the NEB to extend the sunset clause. (enforces the project construction must begin before December 31, 2016)

•  On November, 29, 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially rejected plans for the pipeline.

Trans Mountain Expansion

The TMX proposed route was to “twin” the existing 1,150 kilometre pipeline between Strathcona County (near Edmonton), AB and Burnaby, BC. If successful, it would increase the capacity from the current 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The construction would create 15,000 direct jobs and 37,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs per year during operations.

• On May 19, 2016, the National Energy Board (NEB) completed a 29-month review and concluded  the TMX is in the Canadian public interest and recommended the Federal Governor in Council to approve the
expansion.

•  On November 29, 2016, the TMX was approved by the Government of Canada.

•  On January 11, 2017, the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO) issued an environmental assessment certificate for the TMX.

• On May 29, 2018, the Canadian federal government purchased the TMX from Kinder Morgan.

• On August 30, 2018, the Federal Court of Appeal issued a decision cancelling the Order-in-Council, which had approved the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the TMX.

•             On September 26, 2018, the NEB announced it would hold a public hearing to reconsider the TMX. The deadline is February 22, 2019.

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