New Brunswick

Irving pipeline gets retroactive approval from EUB

New Brunswick's Energy and Utilities Board has granted an Irving Oil company retroactive permission to build an oil pipeline that the company already built without permission last year.

Company started construction at Canaport LNG in February 2014, six months before filing application

New Brunswick's Energy and Utilities Board has granted an Irving Oil company retroactive permission to build an oil pipeline that the company already built without permission last year.

The Irving Oil Refining General Partnership said it believed it was exempt under the Pipeline Act. (CBC)
However, in its ruling, released on Thursday, the EUB made it clear it was not happy with the order of events.

"The Board finds it necessary to comment on the timing of this application," the decision states.

"The construction of the pipeline commenced in early February 2014, approximately six months prior to the filing of the required application, at which time the construction was substantially completed."

New Brunswick's Pipeline Act lists no financial or other penalties for breaking its rules and none were imposed.

The pipeline, which is also at the centre of a property tax controversy in Saint John, was built on the site of the Canaport LNG property to allow for the unloading of oil tankers at the LNG wharf. 

Construction took place between February and August of 2014. Only then did the company apply for permission to build it.

Irving said because the 900-metre line is entirely on its own property it didn't realize permission was required.

Honest mistake

The EUB said it was satisfied it was an honest mistake.

"The Board accepts the explanation made by IORGP (Irving Oil Refining General Partnership) that it believed it was exempt under the Act. The Board therefore grants to IORGP a permit to construct the pipeline," the decision states.

The pipeline has already been used several times to help unload oil tankers into a nearby Irving Oil tank farm and that has put it in the middle of a second controversy.

It crosses three properties that are subject to a special tax concession granted to the Canaport LNG facility and the province has been investigating whether that compromises the terms of that deal.

The concession, which caps property taxes at the site at $500,000 until 2030, was granted "soley for the receiving of liquefied natural gas," according to provincial legislation.

If operation of an oil pipeline on the properties voids that deal, the city has estimated full property taxes would jump to $8 million per year.

About the Author

Robert Jones

Reporter

Robert Jones has been a reporter and producer with CBC New Brunswick since 1990. His investigative reports on petroleum pricing in New Brunswick won several regional and national awards and led to the adoption of price regulation in 2006.

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