Energy East brings potential for innovation in the province

Canada’s Original City is an industrial one. Saint John has grown up around big business and grown because of it. TransCanada’s proposed Energy East Project is the next step.

“It’s a piece of a greater energy story for Saint John. It really affirms our status as the largest oil port in Canada. We’ve got the Irving Oil refinery here, the Canaport LNG facility, plus the capability to host more development projects. We’re poised to become the Calgary of the east,” Craig Estabrooks, manager of corporate strategy for Port Saint John, says.

In August, TransCanada announced the outcome of the open season, putting their confidence in the Port City.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the open season for the Energy East Pipeline held earlier this year and are excited to move forward with a major project that will bring many benefits across Canada,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, in a press release. “This is an historic opportunity to connect the oil resources of western Canada to the consumers of eastern Canada, creating jobs, tax revenue and energy security for all Canadians for decades to come.”

The project, accompanied by a $300 million investment from TransCanada and Irving Oil for a marine terminal, will generate $2.8 billion additional gross domestic product for New Brunswick during the six years of development and 40 years of operation. An independent study by Deloitte & Touche LLP projects 1,427 full-time jobs for the province during development and construction, with 121 full-time jobs maintained by the pipeline once it begins service.

Energy East is anticipated to be in service by 2018 for deliveries in Québec and late-2018 for deliveries to New Brunswick. The pipeline will terminate at the Canaport Energy East Marine Terminal in Saint John where TransCanada and Irving Oil have formed a 50/50 joint-venture to build, own and operate a new deep water marine terminal. In addition, TransCanada will also build 18 tanks on a tank terminal close to the marine terminal.

Where big businesses go, innovation follows. Estabrooks says this could be an opportunity to bring technology and innovation to the province, generating ideas to make the energy industry more sustainable.

“In other energy hubs around the world, companies like Repsol, for example, are some of the biggest technology and innovation firms in the world. Their work doesn’t stop at energy. They bring with them technology jobs and engineering jobs, bringing real innovators together. Why wouldn’t we dream to have an IT industry that helps make oil and gas a greener and more efficient industry,” he says.

Saint John, with a metropolitan population of just over 127,000, has a jobless rate of 7.3 per cent. It’s in need of new jobs to bring new life to the city.

Estabrooks said this generation needs to pave the way for Saint John to become a hub for big business.

“What we need is to dare to think bigger. We need to take an opportunity like this, support and build from it,” Estabrooks says. He likened the opportunity to California’s Silicon Valley, the technology industry’s thriving apex. “Silicon Valley didn’t rest on their laurels and we shouldn’t either.”