2nd oil refinery could make use of tidal power, Irving says

The N.B. government is leasing some of its Crown land to Irving Oil to explore tidal power in the Bay of Fundy, which Irving says could be used to provide some renewable energy for a proposed second oil refinery in Saint John.

The New Brunswick government is leasing some of its Crown land to Irving Oil to explore tidal power in the Bay of Fundy, which Irving says could be used to provide some renewable energy for a proposed second oil refinery in Saint John.

It was announced Monday that Irving is partnering with the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews to research the feasibility of generating tidal power in the province without harming the environment.

Eleven Crown land sites have been offered up for the research, which could take up to two years to complete.

Test sites include the Head Harbour Passage and Western Passage areas of Passamaquoddy Bay, the Cape Enrage area, and the Cape Spencer area near Saint John. Gerhard Pohl, a senior research scientist with the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, said researchers have already identified the best locations for tidal power.

Now they will be taking samples from the ocean, he said, and doing survey work to identify weather conditions and marine life.

"Now that we have an idea of what sites or regions might be suitable, we're looking at the specific conditions that are at those sites, because those data will make it very critical in terms of what you can and cannot do in terms of extracting ocean resources," Pohl said.

Irving Oil will spend up to $600,000 to study the potential for tidal power in the Bay of Fundy, Irving spokesman Jeff Landry said.

"When we announced the possibility of a second refinery, our community challenged us to see if we could integrate renewable energy into that operation. Tidal power was a bit of a natural extension to that," he said.

If the data is promising, Irving Oil would then have to apply to the province to test a turbine in the bay.

Lou Van Guelpen, science co-ordinator for the feasibility project, said the preliminary research is looking good.

"I think as far as the environment is concerned there will be minimal local impact. Compared to other forms of energy on the big scale, I think it will be small. I think it will be beneficial," he said.