Enbridge by the Back Door?
Come hell or oily water, Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, wants to see Alberta bitumen shipped to export terminals on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts. The Enbridge Northern Gateway project, and two projects proposed by TransCanada Pipelines - Keystone XL and Energy East - are the focus of this push.
TransCanada's two proposed bitumen export projects both involve the conversion of existing natural gas pipelines to transport oil: 864 km of Keystone XL, and about 3000 km of Energy East. (Read here and here.) What if TransCanada's Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project was to be scuttled part-built because of a crash in the global LNG market, or was completed but the LNG partner did not build its export plant at Lelu Island? Or what if that partner, Petronas, failed to secure export contracts?
If TransCanada is now contemplating converting sections of natural gas pipeline that are more than 50 years old, might it not be planning to purpose-build a new natural gas pipeline to facilitate easier conversion to use for oil?
The proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline would have a diameter of 36 inches. TransCanada's proposed natural gas pipeline to the BC coast would be 48 inches in diameter. If converted to use for oil, it would be able to transport 1.78 times the fluid volume of Northern Gateway.