Redford wants ‘dialogue’ with Quebec over roadblocks to Alberta oil

By James Wood, Calgary Herald November 15, 2012 3:03 PM

CALGARY — Premier Alison Redford said Thursday she’s hoping for an open conversation with Quebec after that province’s environment minister threatened roadblocks to Alberta oil.

Daniel Breton said this week there are environmental risks to projects proposed around existing infrastructure that are intended to bring western Canadian oil, including bitumen, to Montreal refineries.

The Parti Quebecois cabinet minister said Quebec would have final say over the pipeline plans by Enbridge Inc. and TransCanada Corp no matter the position of the National Energy Board.

Redford — who has made interprovincial cooperation in a Canadian energy strategy a cornerstone policy of her Tory government — said Alberta energy provides a significant economic spinoff across the country, including Quebec.

“The first thing to do is be able to have dialogue with respect to what the economic benefits are,” she told reporters in Edmonton.

“One of the issues that as I understand it was important in the Quebec election was economic growth … we’ll continue to dialogue and make sure that we’re supporting wherever we can the information that might help people to make those decisions.”

Redford said she has spoken briefly to Quebec Premier Pauline Marois since she took office in September. The two are planning to meet in about a week-and-a-half, said Redford.

Enbridge is planning a significant expansion of its pipelines that carry crude from the oilsands and the Bakken shale oilfield to refineries in Central Canada and the U.S. Midwest. The plan, called Eastern Access, involves reversing and maybe expanding a 240,000 barrel-per-day pipeline now carrying imported oil from Montreal to Sarnia, Ont.

TransCanada’s plan is centred on converting parts of its underused Canadian Mainline system from natural gas to oil transportation. It could see up to a million barrels of oil a day shipped to eastern markets starting around 2017.

If Quebec digs in its heels over the projects, it would be the second province to fight a pipeline for the oilsands. British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has laid out five conditions for approval of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, including a “fair share” of the economic benefit of the projects.

Redford has flatly refused to share any energy royalties Alberta would derive from Northern Gateway.

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