10 October 2013 16:05 [Source: ICIS news]
TORONTO (ICIS)--Quebec’s employers' trade group is supporting a plan to reverse the flow and expand an existing oil pipeline as that project would benefit Quebec’s petrochemical and refining sectors, it said on Thursday.
The Conseil du patronat du Quebec said it submitted a brief to Canada’s energy regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB), in support of the project by energy infrastructure firm Enbridge to reverse the flow of a pipeline from Ontario’s Sarnia petrochemicals hub to Montreal to go from west to east, enabling oil from Alberta to reach Quebec. The company also wants to expand the pipeline’s capacity from 240,000 bbl/day to 300,000 bbl/day.
However, the project has met with opposition from a number of environmental and residents’ groups who fear spillages and are critical of the environmental record of Alberta’s oil sands industry.
The NEB this week began a round of hearings in Montreal to review the project, and it will begin another round of hearings next week in Toronto.
Yves-Thomas Dorval, president of the Quebec’s employers council, said: "[We] urge government authorities to promptly approve so that the project can get underway as soon as possible."
"Contrary to what many of the groups that have spoken on this subject in the last few months would like to see, the NEB’s mandate isn't to put the petroleum-products industry on trial," Dorval said.
"Its mandate is to conduct a thorough analysis of the facts, so that it can determine whether the Enbridge project is in the public interest and meets the highest standards in safety and protecting the environment," he said.
Quebec, for its part, "does not have the means to deprive itself of the project's many economic and social benefits," he added.
Canada’s federal government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is supporting Enbridge’s project, along with another west-to-east oil pipeline project proposed by TransCanada.
The government wants Canada to diversify markets for its oil and gas resources, in particular as it still remains unclear when the US will finally approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline project to ship oil from Alberta to refineries on the US Gulf Coast.
Refineries in Canada's eastern provinces are mainly supplied with imported oil from the Middle East and Africa. However, the industry has begun receiving oil via railcar shipment from western Canada.
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