Enbridge pipeline hearing focuses on economic benefits

Under fire from Alberta unions, Enbridge said Tuesday its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline will not cause job losses in the refining sector though it will be affected by higher prices for crude oil that will result if the pipeline goes ahead.

As the federal hearing on the project entered its final stages, the Alberta Federation of Labour questioned the company's panel of well known energy economists about the impact of exporting 585,000 barrels of bitumen a day to China rather than upgrading and refining it in Canada.

Calgary economist Bob Mansell, a consultant speaking for the company, said the proposed $6-billion pipeline could carry a range of refined petroleum products, along with diluted bitumen, if conditions changed to make refining and upgrading profitable here.

"But no shipper is asking for that," they want to move bitumen, Mansell said.

Refineries that turn the heavy oil or upgraded bitumen into gasoline, jet fuel and other products usually set up near major consumer markets, so "it is not realistic to think of Alberta as a base for large- scale refining.''

The federal joint review panel also heard that oil producers operating in Western Canada will benefit by $5 billion in 2019 if the pipeline goes ahead because they will get closer to world price for their bitumen. The current difference can be as much as $20 a barrel.

Edmonton Journal, Friday September 6 2012

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