Recently, TransCanada Pipelines made the announcement they are abandoning the Energy East Pipeline project. It was a sad day for Canada, a missed opportunity to complete a significant nation building project, and partly the result of series of delays and changes in the regulatory requirements and process.
The Energy East project would have not only meant construction jobs over the next decade, but jobs for continued operation and maintenance. In fact, for Ontario, it was forecast that the project would create 4,200 full time jobs during construction and sustain nearly 1,400 full time jobs when in operation. For Peterborough directly it meant 250 well paying jobs with potential for indirect jobs filtering throughout the local supply chain.
The Minister of Natural Resources referred to the TransCanada decision as a “business decision”, and while true, it is far from the only reason.
The federal government needs to recognize its role in the demise of this project as well. Energy East was subject to a series of changes to the National Energy Board process after an agreed upon process was in place.
For Canada, Energy East meant energy independence, increased innovation in the oil and energy sector and the opportunity to be an international leader.
Energy Independence: Oil from the west would have been shipped to eastern Canada for a variety of uses. Now with this project off the table, Canada will have to continue to source oil from other countries in the Middle East and have the product shipped across oceans. The reality is that Canada’s largest oil customer, the U.S., has been focused on securing its on own independence with significant investment in its own oil and gas sector over the past decade.
Increased Innovation: Energy East was an opportunity for innovation in pipeline logistics, motors, and
diagnostics. GE in Peterborough was to build the large motors to move the oil through the pipeline. To have the best and brightest minds working on such a project should have been an opportunity not to be missed, but embraced.
International Leader: While there is no doubt opportunities exist with the current approved pipeline projects,
Energy East, as a project, had the potential to take our expertise to the next level. It was our opportunity to show the world that Canada could successfully collaborate with our economic, First Nations, and environmental communities in five provinces on issues of jobs, pipeline safety, the environment, and duty to consult.
With never-ending delays in the regulatory process, seemingly a lack of political will, and the impact of outside factors, such as the price of oil, it’s not surprising that TransCanada could no longer continue, however, it’s a loss that will be felt for generations.