TransCanada announces major contract for Energy East pipeline

The Calgary-based company planning to build the Energy East pipeline says it has signed a provisional multimillion-dollar order for the construction of 22 modular enclosures along the pipeline route.

Project is controversial, with Montreal and nearby mayors opposed on environmental grounds

TransCanada's proposed pipeline project would carry 1.1 million barrels a day from Alberta through Quebec to an export terminal in Saint John. (Canadian Press)

The Calgary-based company planning to build the Energy East pipeline says it has signed a provisional multimillion-dollar order for the construction of 22 modular enclosures along the pipeline route.  

TransCanada Corp. officials say their deal with ABB Canada would create 120 direct jobs in Quebec and a further 90 spinoff jobs outside the greater Montreal area. 

But there's a catch: the jobs would materialize only if regulators approve the controversial pipeline project.

The proposal has run into major opposition in Quebec, with the mayors of Montreal and dozens of surrounding municipalities saying the project's environmental risks outweigh its economic benefits.

The $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline would carry a million barrels a day of western crude as far east as Saint John to serve domestic refineries and international customers. 

The project would include the existing TransCanada pipeline as far east as Montreal and would require the construction of 1,600 kilometres of new pipeline, including a long section that would run through Quebec to the south coast of New Brunswick.

Construction possible by 2018

If the federal government and the National Energy Board give their OK, TransCanada has said it could begin construction by 2018. The pipeline would be ready for use by 2020. 

The proposed deal with ABB Canada is to construct multiple "e-houses" along the pipeline route to supply electricity to pumping stations. The proposal calls for at least 22 prefab electrical structures to be built at a new production facility in the greater Montreal region.

"This agreement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to hire local suppliers to safely build this piece of national energy infrastructure and support job creation in Quebec," said Energy East president John Soini.

In January, the Liberals announced that pipeline projects like Energy East would face a new environmental assessment process. That will likely delay an approval decision until well into 2018.

In a separate development, the energy board released a statement Wednesday saying it has asked TransCanada to repackage its application for the pipeline to make it easier for experts and the public to wade through.

"When considering the numerous supplemental reports, project updates, errata and amendments coupled with the sheer volume of information presented in the application, the board is of the view that the application, in its present form, is difficult even for experts to navigate," the board wrote to TransCanada.

The energy board has given Energy East two weeks to come up with a new table of contents for the revised document bundle, which already runs to more than 30,000 pages. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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