Craig Leonard unconcerned about delay from Ontario hearing
Energy minister says political support for Energy East pipeline remains strong
Energy Minister Craig Leonard says he's not worried about a new round of public consultations in Ontario delaying the Energy East pipeline project.
The Ontario government has asked its energy regulator to hold public hearings on TrasCanada Corp.'s plan to pipe crude oil from Alberta to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.
Ontario says the hearings will help the government take a position on the plan at the National Energy Board, which will have the final say.
Leonard says it's no different than what will happen in New Brunswick.
“They want to go through a process to make sure that Ontario's concerns are addressed through the regulatory system. Obviously Energy East is a National Energy Board-regulated project. We have the same situation in New Brunswick," he said.
"We're going to making sure that the NEB process is going to address any concerns that we have as a province."
Leonard says he's confident political support for the project remains strong in Ontario.
"From the political side, we've seen the support from [Ontario] Premier [Kathleen] Wynne. She and [New Brunswick] Premier [David] Alward had discussions over the past month or so where she indicated that there was support," he said.
It's a project that is too important to the country for us not to move forward.- Energy Minister Craig Leonard
"And, you know, it's a project that is too important to the country for us not to move forward and I think that most of the individuals that we're hearing from are certainly supportive of the project moving forward as quickly as possible."
In Ontario, the project involves converting roughly 3,000 kilometres of an existing natural gas pipeline to carry the crude, which has raised concerns about how it will affect gas customers.
TransCanada would also construct 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline to carry crude oil into Saint John, where it will end at the Canaport LNG terminal.
The company has said it will start seeking regulatory approvals on the pipeline in 2014 and the oil could start flowing to Eastern Canada by late 2017.
The six-year development and construction phase would create 3,700 New Brunswick jobs, and boost the provincial GDP by $1.2 billion without any government subsidies, according to Alex Pourbaix, president of Energy and Oil Pipelines for TransCanada..
The Canadian economy would see about $10 billion in GDP from the pipeline during that period, Pourbaix has said, noting that pales in comparison to the economic benefits over the 40-year life of the project.
The pipeline project is expected to cost $12 billion, excluding the transfer value of Canadian Mainline natural gas assets, according to the company.