Quite a tug of war has played havoc with the future of Alberta oilsands product, but once again it’s looking like this end of the country could be a winner.
Massive debate has already surrounded various proposals for the flow of crude from the oil-rich area – to the west coast, to the south, along with occasional mention of the Atlantic provinces.
Now, Alberta Premier Alison Redford is describing the interest of New Brunswick as a “natural fit” for marketing the product. This comment comes as New Brunswick Premier David Alward and his energy minister, Craig Leonard, tour Alberta and discuss a potential eastward proposal.
Should that come to pass, it would mean a boost to a number of industries in the Maritime provinces. Also, as some commentators have suggested, greater volumes of crude sent to eastern refineries should translate into lower prices at the fuel pumps for motorists.
This idea has been proposed before – notably by former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna. While it hasn’t quite caught fire, it also tends not to encounter the vociferous protest that other alternatives have – such as the earlier plan of a pipeline to B.C.’s Pacific coast.
The eastward route, as has been emphasized by proponents, has the advantage of a pipeline already in place for part of the required transmission. The current discussion between the two premiers involves sending oilsands crude eastward possibly to Saint John, N.B., to the Irving oil refinery.
Redford said on this subject that Canada relies a great deal on imported, more costly, crude for its needs. At the same time, her province needs to get its product to coastal waters to be able to access international markets.
Although these things are always a pipe dream until the construction is underway, this marks the most significant acknowledgement of the possibility by key players. If it turns into reality, it will benefit consumers and a wide swath of this region’s industry.