On October 30, TransCanada filed a plan to build a new pipeline from the oil sands projects in Alberta east to St. John, New Brunswick. Even though the company says otherwise, Transcanada’s Energy East’s pipeline, with a capacity of 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, provides a direct substitute for the XL extension to the Keystone pipeline which has be in political limbo for 3 years.
The $12 billion pipeline construction project will involve the conversation of an existing natural gas pipeline as well as construction of approximately 900 miles of new pipeline. Along with the pipeline, a new deepwater terminal for export will be constructed at St. John.
Most important for Transcanada, since the project is wholly contained within the borders of Canada, the project cannot be delayed or used as a political football by US politicians. So, what’s happened is exactly what markets and economics cause to happen; the XL project has been delayed by US politicians for the benefit of themselves so long that Transcanada has developed a more expensive, but likely more certain alternative that provides a market for crude produced from the oil sands in Alberta.
The lesson here, at least for us? It is long past time for us to adopt a comprehensive energy policy around weaning ourselves from heavy hydrocarbons and developing more sustainable cleaner fuels to power our future. The XL pipeline debacle should be another one of those moments in time with which we are occasionally presented that should be used to change our national direction. Perhaps, one day, we’ll actually take advantage of those opportunities to improve the future for our kids, grandkids, and their kids.
If only that was at the front of our collective consciousness.