New Brunswick Premier Lobbies Quebec on Eastern Pipeline

New Brunswick Premier David Alward is lobbying his Quebec counterpart to back a proposal to ship Alberta oil to Eastern Canadian refineries as opposition mounts to pipeline projects to the Pacific and Gulf Coasts.

Alward will meet Quebec Premier Pauline Marois in Montreal on Feb. 18 to discuss converting part of TransCanada Corp.’s Alberta-to-Quebec gas pipeline to oil. Alward said he will also discuss a potential new link to Saint John, New Brunswick, in his fourth talk with Marois about the proposal since her September election. While the project falls under federal government jurisdiction, the provinces must be supportive for it to advance, he said by phone today from Fredericton.

“You only see what has taken place with Keystone, what has taken place with the Northern Gateway project, what can happen if you don’t engage,” Alward said, referring to project delays caused by political and landowner opposition to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast and Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway proposal to the Pacific Coast of Canada.

TransCanada and Enbridge, based in Calgary, are proposing conduits from Alberta to the continent’s coasts as rising crude supplies and pipeline bottlenecks widen the price gap between the U.S. benchmark and Canadian crude, which is among the cheapest in the world. TransCanada’s project would move as much as 900,000 barrels a day from Western Canada and the U.S. to eastern refineries, including Canada’s largest in Saint John.

The pipeline would allow Quebec, with refineries in Montreal and Quebec City, to bring in Alberta crude to replace supplies that are now imported, securing jobs in Quebec and New Brunswick, Alward said.

Quebec Benefits

“I believe I have an opportunity to demonstrate why I believe the West-East pipeline can benefit Quebec,” he said.

The gap between oil-sands benchmark Western Canada Select and West Texas Intermediate reached a record $42.50 a barrel on Dec. 14, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, narrowing to $23.50 yesterday.

Patrick Ney, a spokesman for Quebec Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet, said the province is “currently studying the file” when contacted about TransCanada’s pipeline proposal this week. Ney didn’t elaborate in an e-mail today.

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