Within the debate on climate change, there are questions about pipelines and how they fit into the world’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Global energy demand is set to rise by 37 percent by 2040. Our economies are gradually shifting to low-carbon sources but oil and gas will continue to meet at least half of our energy needs. Eastern Canada imports more and more foreign oil, so building Energy East makes a lot of sense.
It would allow Eastern Canada to use western Canadian oil, which is produced under some of the world’s toughest environmental laws.
Now, there are some misconceptions that pipelines can affect global upstream (oil production) or downstream (refineries and end users) developments. Well reality is… they don’t! They only change the way oil – a product we all need – is being transported.
So, here are answers to three important questions you may have on pipelines and climate change.
1. Does it make sense to build Energy East in light of the Paris climate agreement?
Yes. Pipelines are the least GHG-intensive way of moving oil because much of the energy needed to move the oil inside the pipeline will come from low-emissions electricity such as pumps powered by electric motors in provinces with low-carbon grids such as Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
And as Canada moves to meet its commitment to reduce GHG levels, our industry also works hard to reduce its emissions.
The project will be reviewed by Canadian authorities with a particular scrutiny on its impact on Canada’s GHG emissions upstream of the pipeline – a scrutiny that the thousands of rail cars and trucks that transport oil across our nation, every day, do not undergo.
2. Will Canada’s GHG emissions stay the same if Energy East is not built?
No. An independent study commissioned by the Ontario Energy Board concluded that oil will be transported to markets with or without Energy East.
“A large portion of the pipeline capacity is filled with (petroleum) extraction that would have occurred regardless of the project’s approval. The pipeline simply changes the mode of transport for these resources.” (Navius study – January 2015)
The alternatives to pipelines are trains, trucks and tankers, which consume diesel and therefore produce far greater GHG emissions. Navius said emissions from oil transport would actually decline due to Energy East because it would displace GHG-emitting rail cars.
Navius was then asked to calculate the project’s emissions, including GHGs associated with oil production and refining. They estimated total emissions at between 0.7 and 4.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent (Mt CO2e) – which, as a comparison, is 7 to 45 times smaller than the combined gassy outputs of cows, sheep and pigs from Canada’s animal production industry.
3. What does TransCanada do to reduce the carbon intensity of its operations?
The capture and reuse of methane – a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) – instead of its release into the atmosphere has driven TransCanada’s research and development on natural gas pipelines for years.
Want to know more on our Emissions Management Programs? Read this.