Canadian pipelines

When the Keystone XL pipeline was blocked last November, it may have left many people with the impression that the door had been closed to exports of Canadian oil sands. That is not necessarily the case.

Proposals for big pipeline projects continue to advance in Canada, but with destinations on the East and West Coasts within Canada. The proposals would accommodate the many plans for significant expansions of output from the oil sands.

Environmental activists and many other people would rather see oil sands development blocked, especially because of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the work. But it is hard for elected leaders and regulators in Canada to overlook the importance of energy revenues and jobs to the nation and especially to Alberta, where most of the oil sands are located.

So the expansion plans keep moving ahead for both pipelines and oil sands production.

Keystone XL, a TransCanada Corp. plan, is not necessarily dead, given the possibility that another U.S. president might look more favorably upon it. But it is only one of the big four pipeline projects under consideration in Canada. The other three are entirely within Canada, needing approval from a U.S. administration.

They are:

  • Trans Mountain Expansion, a Kinder Morgan Inc. plan to increase the volume of crude oil that moves from Alberta to the Vancouver, British Columbia, metropolitan area, where tanker ships also could leave for East Asia. It is the plan nearest to a decision by the federal government.

  • Northern Gateway, an Enbridge Energy Inc. plan to move crude oil from Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia, where a deepwater port could allow export to East Asia.

  • Energy East, another TransCanada plan and the largest of any under consideration. It would move crude oil from Alberta to refineries in eastern Canada all the way to Saint John, New Brunswick, and from there could use the deepwater port to export to Europe and as far as India.

Subscribers can read more in my full story, Pipeline Projects May Boost Canadian Oil Sands.