TransCanada Line Costs Up 31% After Changes to Satisfy Neighbors

  • Energy East put at $11.3 billion with larger Atlantic terminal
  • Green groups concerned about threats to Bay of Fundy wildlife

TransCanada Corp., which saw its $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline rejected last month, plans to spend an extra $2.6 billion to make changes to another proposed conduit for oil-sands output.

Energy East, designed to carry Alberta crude across six Canadian provinces to the Atlantic Coast, is now forecast to cost C$15.7 billion ($11.3 billion), up from a previous estimate of C$12 billion, the Calgary-based company said Thursday in a statement. TransCanada amended its application with the National Energy Board to reflect adjustments after consulting with thousands of people, the company said.

The largest change driving the cost increase was an expansion of a marine export terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, after the company scrapped plans for a second facility in the province of Quebec.

“This amended filing has been shaped by direct, on-the-ground input from Canadians across the country,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.

Energy East is the largest of TransCanada’s more than $35 billion of planned pipeline and power projects. The company is facing growing opposition to oil lines that has delayed Energy East and contributed to the backlash against Keystone XL, which would have shipped oil-sands crude to U.S. refineries. President Barack Obama denied Keystone XL because he said it would compromise U.S. leadership on battling climate change.

TransCanada earlier this year canceled plans for the Quebec terminal over concerns it would have threatened endangered Beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River. The revised plan would see more of the oil flow to Saint John and into tankers that would cross the Bay of Fundy, drawing fresh criticism from environmental organizations over potential effects on other wildlife, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

“TransCanada’s new application puts much of the burden of what would be North America’s longest oil pipeline on New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine,” Matthew Abbott, a conservation director with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, said in an e-mailed statement. 

The export terminal would have storage of about 13 million barrels in the new plan, up from about 7.6 million previously, according to TransCanada. The redesign would lead to about 281 more ships a year visiting Saint John, which currently sees about 900, the company said.

“We’ve carried out impact assessments and have arrived at the conclusion that that additional traffic does not represent a material threat to wildlife species in the Bay of Fundy,” said Tim Duboyce, a TransCanada spokesman. While there will be more storage, the footprint of the facility won’t be bigger and the tanks will be sealed to prevent odors, he said.

The amended plan includes some of almost 700 route changes TransCanada is planning to the original project design, according to the company. Energy East, which would carry as much as 1.1 million barrels a day to refineries in Eastern Canada and customers outside the country, is targeted to start up in 2020.

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