The first in a series of information sessions in New Brunswick about the proposed west-east oil pipeline is slated for Monday in Edmundston.

TransCanada Corp. officials will be on hand to provide information and answer questions about the Energy East project.

The Calgary-based company wants to convert about 3,000 kilometres of an existing natural gas pipeline and build about 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline to carry western crude oil to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.

"They get to meet specialists from the company, for example from safety or environment, or people that know about land … and so on," said spokesman Philippe Cannon.

"But the second part of that is we expect the feedback from the population also. And that is important that people come to meet with us because that is part of the regulatory process we're going through right now."

Cannon says information gathered at the open houses will be used to finalize the pipeline route.

"I invite people to come and meet with us, so they can get their head around how this all works and get information and make up their own minds."

He is encouraging people to visit the company's website to familiarize themselves with the project before attending the public sesions.

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TransCanada Corp. may build 1,400 kilometres of pipeline, extending its capacity into Saint John. (Courtesy of TransCanada)

TransCanada officials have said the company will start seeking regulatory approvals on the pipeline in 2014 and the oil could start flowing to Eastern Canada by late 2017 in Quebec and 2018 in New Brunswick.

If the project proceeds, it is expected to transport up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil a day.

It would give eastern refineries the opportunity to stop relying on importing foreign oil and provide access to oil from Western Canada, which is less costly, said Cannon.

The National Energy Board is responsible for approving pipelines.

New Brunswick Premier David Alward has said he wants to ensure the pipeline is built to the "highest environmental standards" as it passes through the province.

The pipeline project is expected to cost $12 billion, excluding the transfer value of Canadian Mainline natural gas assets, according to the company.

Critics of the project say the environmental risks of a pipeline are too great.

Meanwhile, supporters say it would strengthen Canada's credibility as an exporter of oil and could mean more jobs.

Meetings are slated for:

  • Aug. 19 - 4-8 p.m., Godbout Hall, 34 37th Avenue, Edmundston (B)
  • Aug. 20 - 4-8 p.m., E. & P. Sénéchal Centre, 60 Ouellette Street, Grand Falls (B)
  • Aug. 21 - 4-8 p.m., Tobique Lions Community Centre, 61 Everett Lane, Plaster Rock (B)
  • Aug. 22 - 4-8 p.m., New Brunswick Community College Gymnasium, 950 Grandview Avenue, Saint John (B)
  • Sept. 10 - 4-8 p.m., St. Alphonsus Parish Hall, 22 Church Street, Hampton (B)
  • Sept. 11, 2013 - 4-8 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion, 119 King Street, Chipman (B)
  • Sept. 12 - 4-8 p.m., Stanley Dance Hall, 23 Centennial Street, Stanley (B)