Premier Brian Gallant will use a four-day trip to Alberta to meet with business and political leaders to show his new government’s support for the Energy East pipeline.
Gallant and Energy Minister Donald Arseneault will leave for Alberta on Sunday and he will meet with Premier Jim Prentice, TransCanada Corp. officials and spend time drumming up possible investment opportunities.
Gallant said the Energy East pipeline project is extremely beneficial for New Brunswick, Alberta and to the country as a whole.
“What I would say is that this has economic benefits that we need as a province and that I think will help our country,” Gallant said.
“I think this is an industry that we understand, this is one that we have been regulating for many years, this is one that we know how to mitigate the risks and make sure that we benefit as much as possible.”
This isn’t the first trip a New Brunswick politician has made to Alberta to lobby for the pipeline project. Former premier David Alward and Saint John Mayor Mel Norton also had similar trade missions.
Other New Brunswick companies will accompany Gallant and participate in a separate trade mission in Alberta.
The New Brunswick delegation will also tour a TransCanada facility and attend a trade show to examine other economic development projects.
Gallant said the Alberta trip is just the first step in rallying support for the Energy East pipeline. The New Brunswick premier said he will travel to other parts of Canada to discuss his government’s commitment to the pipeline project.
TransCanada’s $11-billion Energy East proposal would see the conversion of roughly 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline on the company’s Canadian Mainline route and the construction of 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline, to carry crude oil from Alberta to Saint John.
The pipeline proposal, which still needs regulatory approval, would send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.
TransCanada and Irving Oil Ltd. have also formed a joint venture to build and operate a new $300-million deep water marine terminal.
While the project has won political and business support in the two provinces, it has not gone without controversy.
In September, environmentalists won a Quebec court injunction to stop TransCanada’s work near a beluga whale habitat north of Rivière-du-Loup in the St. Lawrence River.
On Wednesday, Quebec’s environment ministry refused to allow TransCanada to resume preliminary drilling work in Cacouna, saying it was still not satisfied the oil-and-gas giant would respect the noise levels set to protect the local beluga population.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Gaz Metro, one of the largest natural gas distributors in Canada, told CBC they also oppose Energy East.