TransCanada ditching idea of building oil port in Quebec: published report
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling announces the company is moving forward with the 1.1 million barrel-per-day Energy East Pipeline project at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A published report says TransCanada Corp. has ditched plans to build an oil port in Quebec as part of its Energy East project.
La Presse says the Calgary-based company will transport oil directly to Saint John, N.B.
TransCanada had previously suspended the construction of a port in the eastern Quebec community of Cacouna because of the presence of belugas.
A federal government wildlife committee concluded late last year their numbers had dwindled to 1,000 from a high of 10,000.
The company wanted the terminal in Cacouna as part of its 4,600-kilometre pipeline, which would carry 1.1 million barrels per day of oilsands crude from Alberta to refineries on the east coast for export overseas.
La Presse says TransCanada will seek an extension of up to two months to table its final version of the project.
TransCanada had no immediate comment.
Opposition politicians expressed concerns Wednesday that, without an oil terminal, Quebec would be subject to possible environmental risks -- but with far fewer economic spinoffs than originally thought.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, the economic benefits with Cacouna were 1, but with no port they drop to zero," said Sylvain Gaudreault, a Parti Quebecois member of the legislature.
Francois Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec, voiced a similar opinion.
"We'll be subject to the risks of the pipeline but the benefits and the jobs will go to the Maritimes," said Legault. "I understand the need to protect the environment but we really need to get the maximum benefits possible."
The Quebec government imposed various conditions on TransCanada last fall for Energy East to be accepted.
The government told TransCanada it had to ensure the project was socially acceptable, conduct an environmental assessment and provide a plan that would guarantee emergency measures of a high standard.
It also wanted the company to assume full economic and environmental responsibility in the case of any leak.
There was also a stipulation the project had to generate economic benefits for Quebec as a whole as well as respecting agreements with First Nations.
TransCanada has long argued the project would help support thousands of jobs across the country and generate billions of dollars in government tax revenues.