Nova Scotia

Irving's Halifax marine terminal opens with plug for Energy East

It was supposed to be Halifax's day in the sun at the opening of Irving's $80-million reactivated marine terminal but Arthur Irving put the proposed Energy East pipeline in the limelight.

'Alberta needs it, the East Coast needs it and the crude has to be sold and transported'

An older man wearing a business suit speaks outdoors at a lectern that features the Irving corporate logo on its front.
Arthur Irving speaks at the opening of Irving's Halifax Harbour Terminal on Thursday. (CBC)

Irving Oil opened its Halifax Harbour Terminal on Thursday with a major plug for the proposed Energy East pipeline.

Shuttered in 2002, the New Brunswick business giant decided in 2015 to restart its marine fuelling terminal in Woodside. The $80-million reactivation project finished in 18 months "on time and almost on budget," Arthur Irving said during the opening.

At the same time, he lauded the company's Saint John, N.B., refinery, which is currently undergoing its annual maintenance shutdown operation.

"Twenty-two days ago, we hired 2,700 people for what we call operation Red Fox. We do this about every year," he said of the maintenance work.

'Halifax is booming'

That refinery could play an important role in the proposed Energy East pipeline, a topic Irving said he spoke about with Nova Scotia Energy Minister Michel Samson earlier in the day.

If approved, the 4,600-kilometre pipeline, by Calgary-based energy corporation TransCanada, would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to New Brunswick.

"That pipeline will be built because Alberta has to have it. I was in Calgary on the weekend. Calgary misses the pipeline — now," Irving said.

"Halifax is booming; Alberta is not."

He outlined how he envisions the project will work. He said the pipeline would run to Saint John and Irving Oil would partner with TransCanada "50-50" to build a dock to export the crude.

Energy Minister Michel Samson said Thursday that he will be speaking before a Senate committee in Halifax to support the proposed Energy East pipeline. (CBC)

"That will happen but it's taking a little longer than it should," he said. "But it will happen because it is the right thing to do for Canada. They can't get along without it, Alberta needs it, the East Coast needs it and the crude has to be sold and transported."

Irving's Saint John refinery is ideal as the marine exporting facility, said Irving who, with his brother J.K., share ownership of the Irving group of companies.

"We got the deep water, 120 feet at low tide and we've got a 32-foot tide so we can handle any ships of any size in the world."

'We have the desire'

Samson later reiterated the support of Nova Scotia's Liberal government for the Energy East project.

"We have the desire. We've made it very clear to Mr. Irving," he said.

"On Friday, I'll be making a presentation to the Senate committee that will be here in Halifax to indicate that our premier and our government have made it clear that we support the pipeline, we see it as part of our energy security in Nova Scotia."

Samson also said he was satisfied the newly reopened Halifax marine terminal will help boost the region's energy security.

"Not too long ago, we did have a shortage here in Nova Scotia due to the fact there was only one supplier that was bringing petroleum products to the province. Having this second supplier here now ... makes it clear to us it will give us better security here."