TransCanada adds another pipeline to growing tar sands network


Meanwhile, yet another pipeline company has put on the table yet another pipeline proposal to get Alberta’s dirty and dangerous – just ask the people in Marshall, Michigan and Mayflower, Arkansas – crude to the ocean so it can be shipped overseas in supertankers.

As TransCanada quakes in its boots over the less-than-certain fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, it has hatched a new plan to turn an aging natural gas pipeline in Canada into a tar sands pipeline headed east. TransCanada’s proposed Energy East Pipeline would transport tar sands crude from Alberta, through Ontario and Quebec, and as far as New Brunswick’s Irving Oil Ltd. refinery and port of Saint John.

According to the Council of Canadians’ primer on the subject, TransCanada wants to convert its Eastern Mainline pipeline, which currently transports natural gas and is operating at half capacity, into an tar sands oil pipeline that could carry eastward up to 850,000 barrels per day. Eighty per cent of the pipeline (between Saskatchewan and Quebec) already exists; it would need to be extended in the west, to connect the pipe to Hardisty, Alberta, and in the east, where it would be extended to either Montreal, Quebec City, or Saint John, NB, all port cities that can help industry get its dirty cargo to international markets.

Like the Pegasus Pipeline that doused Mayflower in crude, the Eastern Mainline Pipeline was built in the 1950s, and would carry a substance (tar sands crude) thicker than the material for which it was originally designed. According to a study by the National Petroleum Council for the U.S. Department of Energy, “pipelines operating outside of their design parameters such as those carrying commodities for which they were not initially designed, or high flow pipelines, are at the greatest risk of integrity issues in the future due to the nature of their operation.”

Like other pipeline projects, this one would create significant risk of oil spills, create few jobs, and provide little oil to Eastern Canada and do little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, because most of it will be sold to the highest bidder and sent overseas.

But it will make oil companies even richer and more powerful than they already are.

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