By The Canadian Press - Monday, February 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – The premiers of Quebec and New Brunswick agreed Monday to create a…
MONTREAL – The premiers of Quebec and New Brunswick agreed Monday to create a working group to weigh the risks of allowing oilsands crude to be piped across their provinces.
The get-together between Quebec’s Pauline Marois and New Brunswick’s David Alward came at a critical time for Alberta’s oil industry, which is trying to find ways to get its bitumen to international markets.
With the industry held back by bottlenecks, the meeting at Marois’ Montreal office came amid increasing talk of sending Alberta oil to Eastern Canada.
The oil industry is eyeing New Brunswick as a potential destination for Western Canada crude, a project that would have to cross through Quebec.
Alward and Marois announced that a working group would be created to take closer look at the TransCanada Corp. proposal.
The premiers, who declined to speak to media gathered outside Marois’ office, issued a joint statement following their meeting Monday.
“We agreed that more information and analysis is required to ensure that all technical, environmental, and economic issues related to this project respond to the interests of Quebecers,” said Marois, who told Alward she was not opposed to the initiative.
In the same statement, Alward said he brought Marois up to speed on his recent meeting with oil-industry leaders and Alberta Premier Alison Redford.
“We agreed to continue working together to learn more,” he said.
“I am looking forward to the information that will be gathered by the working group to help us better understand the scope of this important opportunity to drive job creation and innovation in our natural resources.”
Time is of the essence for the controversial Canadian oilsands industry.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver estimates that $50 million is lost each day due to a lack of pipeline capacity out of Western Canada and the U.S. Midwest. The congestion has translated into lower-than-usual rates for Canadian oil.
The Canadian industry is awaiting a U.S. decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to send oilsands crude to the Gulf Coast — a project that has been met with strong opposition amid environmental concerns on both sides of the border.
Thousands of people staged a weekend demonstration in Washington, D.C., to denounce the carbon-intensive Alberta crude and urge U.S. President Barack Obama to live up to his climate pledges.
In the meantime, the oil industry is considering other options.
TransCanada Corp. says it’s technically and economically feasible for it to convert an existing, underused natural gas line to bring oil from Western Canada to Quebec and New Brunswick.
The Calgary-based company says it aims to file a regulatory application for its eastbound pipeline proposal by year-end following “encouraging” feedback from potential customers.
Alward said earlier this month that he would happily welcome a pipeline carrying oilsands bitumen to a 300,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Saint John, with the possibility of also exporting some of that crude by tanker.
“We’re open for business,” he said after a meeting in Calgary with Redford. The two leaders have been talking for months about the feasibility of shipping oil to New Brunswick.
Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) is also hoping to send Alberta crude eastward. The company wants to expand capacity on some pipes in the Great Lakes region and reverse the flow of another line between Montreal and southern Ontario.
The project is currently working its way through the regulatory process.
Marois has already shown an openness to the idea of permitting oilsands bitumen to travel across her province.
After meeting with Canadian premiers in November, Marois agreed to create working groups to weigh the economic benefits and environmental risks of pumping Alberta crude through Quebec.
During Monday’s meeting, a Marois spokeswoman indicated the Quebec government is still in the early stages of assessing the TransCanada project.
Marie Barrette explained that the premier’s decision not to speak to reporters was because the TransCanada proposal is still a relatively new plan.
“The file is not super-advanced,” Barrette said while Alward and Marois met behind closed doors.
“It’s not as advanced as, say, the Enbridge pipeline, so there are questions to ask, there are things to consider.
“What else would you like us to say in a news conference?”
Alward and Marois also discussed the impact of Ottawa’s changes to the Employment Insurance program, the status of free-trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union and daycare centres.
Marois’ office initially billed Monday’s talks with Alward as the first tete-a-tete for the provincial leaders, but a spokeswoman later said the two premiers had met one-on-one before.
Alward’s office said he and Marois had a private meeting shortly after she won Quebec’s September election. They also saw each other at a Francophonie summit in Africa, and at a premiers’ conference.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 9:36 PM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – TransCanada Corp. said Tuesday it aims to file a regulatory application for…
CALGARY – TransCanada Corp. said Tuesday it aims to file a regulatory application for its eastbound pipeline proposal by year-end following “encouraging” feedback from potential customers.
The Calgary-based pipeline giant also acknowledged that a long-awaited State Department decision on its controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline is unlikely to come during the first quarter of this year.
TransCanada is in the midst of gauging shipper interest in a project that would see part of its underused natural gas mainline converted to oil service, shipping as many as one million barrels a day of western crude to refineries in Quebec and potentially the East Coast.
“Discussions with potential shippers and other stakeholders are well underway to determine if it is a project that the market wants and I would say to date,those discussions have been very, very encouraging,” CEO Russ Girling told analysts on a conference call.
Politicians are on board with the notion, with New Brunswick Premier David Alward and Alberta counterpart Alison Redford touting eastern pipelines in Calgary last week. Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has also embraced the idea.
Refineries in eastern Canada and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard currently import some 1.5 million barrels a day of expensive crude from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Libya, said Alex Pourbaix, president of energy and oil pipelines at TransCanada.
Refineries in that part of the continent are geared to process light crude, so oil from areas like Saskatchewan is more likely to flow there than from the oilsands — at least initially.
Pourbaix says he sees an “open season” — a period of 30 to 60 days where potential customers can bid for space on the line — taking place toward the end of the second quarter.
TransCanada would like to have some comfort in the level of interest before reaching that stage, he added.
“We want to make sure we sop up all the potential barrels that are out there, but we wouldn’t go to an open season unless we were very comfortable of getting a minimum level of commercial support for the project,” he said.
The company also intends to spend a lot of time in coming months engaging with communities along the route.
On Keystone XL, Pourbaix said he’s expecting the State Department to release a supplemental environmental impact assessment shortly, taking into account changes to the pipeline’s route through Nebraska.
After that, it would take another two to three months to make a final decision, pushing a decision past the first quarter of 2013.
More than a year ago, the Obama administration rejected an earlier iteration of its controversial Keystone XL pipeline in its entirety, mainly as a result of an environmental backlash in Nebraska.
TransCanada then broke the project up into two parts. The southern portion between Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast, which does not need a permit because it doesn’t cross the Canada-U.S. border, is 45 per cent complete and on track to start up by year-end.
The fate of the $5.3-billion northern portion is currently in the hands of new Secretary of State John Kerry. Last month, the Nebraska governor gave his blessing to a new route through the state that still crosses part of the Ogallala aquifer, but avoids much of the Sand Hills region.
TransCanada expects that 830,000-barrel-per-day line to start up in late 2014 or early 2015.
Earlier Tuesday, it said its fourth-quarter earnings were dragged lower by power plant outages and weaker contributions from its natural gas pipelines.
Comparable earnings were $318 million for the last three months of 2012, down from $365 million during the same period a year earlier.
On a per-share basis, that amounted to 45 cents, down from 52 cents a year earlier and missing the average analyst estimate of 49 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.
Revenues rose to $2.09 billion from $2.02 billion.
On the call, Girling called the results “solid” but “not reflective” of the company’s “underlying earning power.”
Lanny Pendill, an analyst at Edward Jones, said the quarter was a “slight miss,” mainly on the power side of the business.
The main issue was a slow restart to two refurbished units at the Bruce Power nuclear generating station on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario.
“For more of a higher-level perspective, our long-term outlook remains intact,” said Pendill.
“If you look at the projects that the company has in place, commercially secured, we still see a company that’s going to be able to provide above-average earnings growth and dividend growth over the longer term. From a lower-risk type of utility company, that bodes very well for shareholders in our view.”
TransCanada also said its quarterly dividend will rise by two cents per share to 46 cents for the quarter ending March 31, an increase of five per cent.
Shares in TransCanada closed down 69 cents to $47.56 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, September 28, 2012 at 5:50 PM - 0 Comments
VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark says she’s off to Alberta to meet with Premier…
VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark says she’s off to Alberta to meet with Premier Alison Redford about British Columbia’s concerns about the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
Clark says she needs to tell Redford and Albertans that B.C. has environmental concerns about the plan to build a twin pipeline from Alberta to northwest B.C. and then load the oil product onto tankers bound for Asia.
Clark and Redford will meet in Calgary, where Clark will also speak to university public policy students.
Clark told cheering B.C. municipal politicians at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention that the project must satisfy B.C.’s environmental concerns for the pipeline to proceed.
Clark has also said she wants a bigger slice of the revenue pie from the pipeline to offset what she says is the increased environmental risk B.C. must bear, but Redford has said in the past she will not discuss that.
Clark sent Redford a letter earlier this week outlining the five requirements B.C. needs to be met before supporting the project, of which three of the five involve environmental protection.