CALGARY – TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) has begun seeking firm commitments from parties interested in new capacity for piping oil from the West to the eastern provinces.
The Energy East Pipeline project will involve 3,000 kilometres of existing natural gas pipeline converted to carry crude and 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline.
The proposed system could stretch as far east as Saint John, N.B., where Irving Oil has a major refinery.
It’s one of two proposals for moving oil from the western provinces to the east. The other would see Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) expand capacity on some pipes in the Great Lakes region and reverse the flow of another line between Montreal and southern Ontario — the so-called Line 9 pipeline.
Supporters of such projects argue western crude would reduce Eastern Canada’s reliance on imported oil and provide new markets for producers in the West. Critics warn of potential environmental damage from oil spills.
The premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick met in Calgary in February and both told a joint news conference that they support the idea of opening eastern markets.
The federal energy minister also said in February that he had given support in principle for the TransCanada project in a meeting with the chairman of Irving Oil, subject to approval by the National Energy Board.
TransCanada said Tuesday that it is seeking binding commitments for delivery points in Montreal, Quebec City and Saint John, N.B.
The company will hold a two-month “open season” for collecting the commitments starting on April 15 and ending June 17.