- Regulatory Filing
Energy East is a proposed 4,500-kilometre pipeline that will transport approximately 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the refineries of Eastern Canada and a marine terminal in New Brunswick. The proposed Energy East Pipeline project will convert 3,000 km of existing natural gas pipeline to crude oil service, and will include the construction of 1,500 km of new pipeline.
No. Since the project was announced in 2013, the Energy East project team has conducted a number of environmental assessment studies which includes analyzing bodies of water along the pipeline route. These studies are used to help design water crossings (methods for crossing bodies of water with the least amount of environmental impact) on a case-by-case basis. Protection of water resources is of utmost importance and is why we take extra precautions around bodies of water.
Planning and building the pipeline will create more than 9,200 full-time direct jobs and over 4,700 indirect jobs. During the first 20 years of operation, Energy East is expected to sustain 900 full-time direct jobs across Canada, and thousands of indirect jobs.
Canada needs a west-to-east pipeline, so our country can transport the vast supply of Western Canadian crude oil to refineries in the east.
Energy East will help decrease our dependence on foreign oil and add billions back into our own economy. In 2015, Canada’s oil imports surged 16 per cent to 736,000 barrels of oil a day, yet Canada holds the third largest oil reserves. At last year’s average oil price, that is $35 million leaving our economy every day. Our country is increasingly dependent on Middle Eastern and African countries that have no control on the environmental impact of their oil production instead of relying on our own reserves in Canada – home to some of the strictest environmental laws in the world.
Conversations with landowners, municipalities and Indigenous communities have shaped a number of changes in our original Energy East project. For instance, we’ve made close to 700 changes to the proposed pipeline route, addressing issues such as environmental protection, environmental concerns and other issues.
The final route for Energy East will not be finalized until we have assessed and incorporated input from our stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, landowners, local communities and provincial and federal governments.
Land surveyors collect all the geographic and land ownership data that the Energy East Pipeline project team needs, to identify an ideal route that has as little impact as possible on landowners, residents and the environment.
Several studies completed by independent third party agencies and university think tanks have concluded diluted bitumen is essentially the same as conventional oil. It is no more likely to sink, and no more corrosive to the pipeline than conventional crude oil.
Pipelines are buried in the ground, which is the best protection. The design and materials used will also help protect the pipeline from damage caused by seismic vibrations and earthquakes.
The design of gas pipelines and oil pipelines is essentially the same. The same construction processes, welding practices and materials are used for both types of pipelines. The main difference between gas and oil pipelines is the wall thickness and where the shut-off valves are placed. In a gas pipeline, heavier wall pipe is used in areas with higher population density. For oil pipelines, near water crossings, we would use thicker-walled pipe.
Currently, the river crossings being replaced have 36” diameter pipes, and we want to install 42” diameter pipes. It is important that the pipeline has 42” pipe from start to finish, as this allows us to inspect the integrity of the pipe with inline devices (specialized devices like the SMART pig) while in operation.
Shut-off valves are devices placed within a pipeline that can isolate any segment of pipeline where data that’s gathered indicates a possible leak. In the highly unlikely event of a leak, control centre operators will activate the valves, closing them to stop the flow of oil into the area where there is a potential leak.
Converting the existing pipeline is aligned with our commitment to environmental stewardship. The existing pipeline is already in the ground, so we can minimize our environmental footprint during the construction of the pipeline.
Steps to converting a gas pipeline to oil include ensuring the integrity of the pipeline before converting it, disconnecting the pipeline from the adjacent gas system, and installing new valves and pump stations.
TransCanada hires specialized consultants, biologists and scientists to study the soil, vegetation, wildlife, archeological resources and wetlands. We conduct these studies to help us understand the potential impact our projects might have on the environment. These studies help us develop appropriate mitigation strategies to ensure we do not have a negative effect on the environment.
We have many initiatives to help protect and sustain wildlife. A recent example is an initiative in northern B.C. on the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project to protect the woodland caribou. The caribou were herded into an area while vulnerable during their calving stage to ensure safety from predators. Then they were released back into the wild to maintain their population.
The SMART pig is propelled by flowing oil or gas along the length of the pipe and helps us see the inside, middle and outside of the pipe while it’s operating. While travelling, sensors detect changes in the pipeline steel caused by dents, cracks or metal loss. The information is used to help us determine what features within the pipe we should investigate further.
We use a number of different methods for water crossings. The primary method is a trenchless crossing which does not affect the bed and banks of the stream or the sensitivity of fishery. This method uses drill technology to go under the water course, attach to the pipe and pull it back under.
We also use two types of isolation crossings, dam-and-pump and flume. The dam-and-pump method requires putting a dam both upstream and downstream of the water course, drying out the area to install the pipe, pulling the isolation, and reclaiming the bed and banks to preconstruction conditions. A flume is a giant pipe placed in the water course that channels the water through while the pipeline is constructed and installed. The last technique we use is the open-cut method. This method is used for small crossings, when the water body is dry or frozen to the bottom, and when there are low fishery sensitivities.
We live and play in these areas, just like you do, and we want to make sure the environment is protected for future generations–it’s one of our our top priorities. We work collaboratively with environmental agencies, government and First Nations to develop environmental protection plans towards our goal – to manage and minimize our environmental footprint. We conduct an Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment (ESA) and develop an Environmental Protection Plan (EPP).
The likelihood of a pipeline incident is extremely rare. That’s why it’s crucial we work with first responders to prepare for the incident that’s least likely to happen during their careers. This is precisely why TransCanada works closely with local emergency response crews in the communities where we operate. We know that working with local first response crews ensures the safety of the public, which is of upmost importance to you and us.
Energy East is 100 per cent responsible for responding, cleaning and restoring the site in the unlikely event of a pipeline leak. We would also be 100 per cent responsible for the cost associated with remediation work. Canada’s pipeline regulations are rigorous, transparent and among the most stringent in the world. As a responsible company, it is our duty to meet these standards and we have taken this very seriously throughout our 65-year existence.
A pipeline leak is extremely unlikely and TransCanada has never spilled a single drop of oil into a waterway in over 65 years of transporting energy. That being said, dilbit oil behaves the same way as conventional crude oil, which floats on water. All oil does have the potential to sink if it is allowed to stay in the water for an extended period of time. Cleaning up dilbit poses the same challenges as cleaning up conventional oil. Swift clean-up is crucial, and in both cases the environmental and site conditions determine the best procedures and equipment to use.
Energy East will span 4,500 kilometres (km), however 3,000 km (70 per cent of the pipeline) is already in the ground. Energy East will convert 3,000 km of the existing Canadian Mainline, and will build an additional 1,500 km of new pipeline.
Pipelines are the safest way to transport large quantities of crude oil over land. This has been confirmed by Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) and a study by the Fraser Institute. Transporting oil to market by other transportation methods such as trains and tankers, carry higher risks of spill and personal injuries than pipelines.
TransCanada invested $1.5 billion in pipeline integrity and preventative maintenance programs in 2015. We also monitor our pipelines 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We carry out regular “in-line” inspections, which is when a device is used to create a map of pipeline wall-thickness and integrity. The Energy East team will set up comprehensive Emergency Response Plans (EMR) as a proactive measure, which involves the placement of specialized equipment and trained field crews along the entire route, as well as regular training exercises. The EMR ensures we are prepared in the unlikely event of a leak.
TransCanada will develop and update Emergency Response Plans (EMR) with local stakeholders to ensure we are ready to respond quickly and efficiently to any kind of pipeline emergency. In 2015 alone, we worked with local and public agencies to complete more than 125 emergency drills and exercises across our network of pipelines. Emergency responders have access to response equipment at sites along the pipeline route.
Contact the Energy East team at EnergyEast@transcanada.com