The company that owns majority interest in the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline has announced plans to reverse its flow from south to north, putting pressure on New Brunswick's Saint John's Canaport liquefied natural gas terminal to convert into an export facility.

The Saint John terminal is idle for extended periods each year. For the most part, it sends gas into the United States during peak winter-demand periods.

But now Spectra Energy wants to bring gas into Maine from Pennsylvania and New York, instead of through the Maritimes.

David Campbell, an economic development consultant based in Moncton, said if gas flow in the pipeline is permanently reversed, Canaport LNG will no longer serve a purpose.

“There's a business interest on the part of Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline, on the part of Repsol and Irving, on the part of Emera to find a new use for that facility and an export terminal is a good potential to do that,” he said.

Campbell said converting the terminal could cost between $1 billion to $2 billion.

An LNG export facility is also proposed for Guysborough County in Nova Scotia.

Canaport, which opened in 2009, currently imports liquefied natural gas from locations such as Qatar and Trinidad by tankers, restores it to its original gaseous form through a process called regasification, and moves it by pipeline to American and Canadian markets.

Canaport LNG is a partnership between Repsol and Irving Oil Ltd.

The terminal currently has a maximum send out capacity of 1.2 billion cubic feet (BCF) or 28 million cubic metres of natural gas per day, according to the company's website.

The gas is used for home heating and cooking, generating electricity and numerous industrial purposes.