Quebec businesses and unions support oil pipeline project

30 May 2013 15:11  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Businesses and unions in Canada’s Quebec province are supporting a pipeline project to ship some 300,000 bbl/day of oil from western Canada to refineries in Quebec, officials said on Thursday.

Canadian energy infrastructure firm Enbridge has applied for regulatory approval to reverse an existing oil pipeline that links the Sarnia petrochemicals hub in southern Ontario to Montreal to flow from west to east, instead of its current east-west flow. However, Enbridge’s proposal has met resistance from environmentalists in Quebec.

In a joint statement, eight Quebec business and labour groups said that Enbridge’s proposal is "a defining project for Quebec's economy and for its refining and petrochemical industry".

The pipeline reversal would make Quebec less dependent on imported oil while maintaining nearly 2,000 jobs in the petrochemical and refining industry in the province, they said.

Françoise Bertrand, president and CEO of the Federation des chambres de commerce du Quebec, said that "Quebec must take advantage of this promising project" to help save the province's two remaining refineries and maintain jobs.

"[The project] will also alleviate our trade deficit, given the onerous Canadian dollar [C$] $15bn [$14.4bn] tab we are currently paying for the import of offshore oil from North Africa and the Middle East," he added.

US-based refiner Valero, which has a 265,000 bbl/day refinery at Levis near Quebec City, has said it supports Enbridge’s project.

The company, which is seeking to replace part of the expensive Brent-priced crude oil it currently imports, recently even brought in crude oil via ship from Texas to help supply the Levis refinery.

Quebec has only two refineries – Valero's Levis plant, and a 137,000 bbl/day refinery owned by Canadian oil sands major Suncor in Montreal.

Meanwhile, Canadian oil industry and government officials keep lobbying US authorities and politicians in favour of the long-delayed Keystone XL project, a 1,900km (1,178 mile) pipeline that will enable supplies of Alberta’s oil to reach refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

($1 = C$1.04)

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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