Billions projected in savings if Quebec refiners switch to Alberta oil – by Sophie Cousineau (Globe and Mail – February 21, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

MONTREAL — Quebec could save up to $3-billion a year buying Alberta’s oil instead of importing all the fuel it consumes from Europe or North Africa, according to a new projection.

The savings estimate by National Bank Financial assumes Alberta’s oil could physically get to Quebec, which currently isn’t the case. But with two projects under consideration, buying Albertan oil is no longer a far-fetched scenario for Quebeckers.

Enbridge Inc. wants to reverse the flow of the pipeline it operates between Sarnia, Ont., and Montreal to send oil eastward. The National Energy Board is holding information sessions on the upcoming hearings this week. TransCanada Corp. is looking into refitting and extending an existing natural gas pipeline through Quebec and all the way to New Brunswick. Assuming the company goes ahead with its plan and gets all the necessary approvals, the pipeline could start moving oil in 2017 at the earliest.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, who hopes to decrease the province’s reliance on costly imports, is cautiously examining both projects. Quebeckers are divided over Alberta’s oil sands: Many are concerned about the environmental impact, while the business community sees an opportunity to ensure the long-term survival of Quebec’s petrochemical industry.

At a meeting with New Brunswick Premier David Alward on Monday, Ms. Marois said Quebec is not opposed to TransCanada’s project.

“We however need more information and more detailed analysis to ensure that all the technical, environmental and economical questions of this project are answered in a way that satisfies the interests of Quebeckers,” she said in a written statement.

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