The Quebec government says it will be even tougher for TransCanada Corp. to get the province's approval for its Energy East oil pipeline now that the company has scrapped plans for a marine export terminal on the St. Lawrence River.
The Liberal government of Premier Philippe Couillard had previously expressed concern over the Quebec portion of the proposed Energy East line that would transport 1.1 million barrels of crude a day from Western Canada to East Coast refineries and shipping points; the project, it said, provides little in the way of economic benefits and permanent jobs while increasing the risk of environmental disasters.
A marine terminal in Quebec would have created a certain number of permanent jobs once the construction phase of the pipeline was over, Mr. Couillard said Thursday in Quebec City.
"With a deep-water port, it's easy enough to calculate the benefits in terms of infrastructure, jobs, et cetera," he told reporters.
"Without that, I'm not saying it's impossible, but it becomes more complicated."
TransCanada said on Thursday that it won't go ahead with a Quebec terminal as initially planned and will amend its Energy East application to the National Energy Board (NEB) "after continuing to listen to local communities, key stakeholders and customers."
The original proposal was for two marine terminals to export TransCanada crude from Energy East to offshore markets, one in Saint John, N.B., and one at Cacouna, Que., on the Lower St. Lawrence.
But the Cacouna project was called off in April, in part because of concerns over the impact on the nearby calving sites of endangered beluga whales.
TransCanada had since then been scouting for an alternative location on the St. Lawrence but it said on Thursday it has decided to go ahead with just the New Brunswick facility. After assessing the potential of other Quebec sites, it was decided that – for a combination of environmental, economic and commercial reasons – it makes more sense to go with one consolidated maritime terminal in Saint John, said Tim Duboyce, a TransCanada spokesman in the company's Montreal office.
The company said on Thursday that it is proceeding with plans to build the Quebec stretch of the 4,600-kilometre pipeline, with links to refineries in Montreal and Quebec City. But there are numerous hoops to get through first, including environmental hearings at the provincial level as well as the government skepticism regarding economic and fiscal benefits.
TransCanada is listening closely to the concerns the province has raised over the pipeline, Mr. Duboyce said.
"We're going to do everything in our power to address" them, he said.
"We believe we've got a project here that is full of economic benefits."
"Today's announcement demonstrates our dedication to listening and delivering a vital infrastructure project that will provide significant economic benefits to all provinces along the pipeline's route," said TransCanada chief executive officer Russ Girling.
Amendments to the Energy East application will be sent to the NEB in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the pipeline is expected to go into service in 2020, TransCanada said.