Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) is restarting the regulatory review of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, further delaying the project.
On January 27, the board said the new panel assigned to review the C$15.7 billion (US$12 billion) project “has voided all decisions made by the previous hearing panel”. This includes everything from a decision on whether Calgary-based TransCanada’s application is complete to issues relating to the project’s environmental assessment.
The NEB appointed three new panellists this month to review Energy East. The previous panel stepped down in September 2016 following allegations of a conflict of interest.
As a result, the NEB suspended hearings on Energy East, which was originally expected to begin construction this year. The new panel must now determine whether TransCanada’s application is complete. It then has 21 months to prepare its recommendation on whether the Canadian government should approve the pipeline.
Energy East, which is the most expensive pipeline project ever proposed in Canada, is designed to carry 1.1 million bpd of crude over a distance of 2,800 miles (4,506 km) from Alberta and Saskatchewan through Quebec to the Canadian East Coast. From there, it can be shipped overseas. TransCanada is planning to convert part of an existing natural gas pipeline system to crude service.
TransCanada has claimed Energy East will give Quebec’s economy a boost while helping to address a midstream bottleneck in the country. But the project is facing strong political, environmental and First Nation opposition.
In August 2016, public protests against Energy East in Montreal prompted the NEB to cancel the first day of hearings.
TransCanada has said it is reviewing the NEB’s decision to determine how it will affect Energy East. The company signalled that it remained committed to the project, as did the Alberta government, which sees Energy East as critical to opening up new markets for the province’s oil sands output.