Keystone Project No Threat To Upgrading Jobs: NEB

In approving the Keystone pipeline expansion, the National Energy Board (NEB) was not persuaded the project would threaten potential upgrading jobs in Alberta, the board ruled in a 98-page decision.

As reported last week, a three-member panel of the board allowed the application by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline GP Ltd. to expand the Canadian leg of its Keystone pipeline, ultimately boosting capacity by 156,000 bbls per day, to a projected 591,000 bbls, from the previously-projected 435,000 bbls per day (DOB, July 18, 2008).

During the NEB hearing on the matter, a lawyer for the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), one of several intervenors, argued the NEB lacked sufficient evidence on the "more important question of broader impacts on value-added production in Canada." Yet, on that point, the board said it had all the evidence it needed to decide the matter.

Turning to the merits of the AFL's argument, the board said it was "not persuaded ... that approval of the Cushing Expansion might mean a lost opportunity to generate thousands of permanent full-time jobs in Canada, particularly in light of Keystone's evidence that the expanded ... pipeline would have the capability to ship a full range of crude oil products including synthetic crude upgraded in western Canada, and could, if required, be modified to carry refined products."

The labour group, representing more than 100,000 unionized Alberta workers, also argued that, given the unsettled nature of public (i.e. government) policy at the moment, the board should deny the application or delay a decision until more information on Canadian energy policy objectives becomes available. Alternatively, the AFL argued the board should wait until more evidence could be gathered on the "value-added" aspects of the project.

On the topic of energy policy, the board ruled it could make a well-informed public interest decision, "notwithstanding the AFL's view that energy policy may continue to evolve." As for waiting for further evidence on value-added aspects, the board said it considered the "fact that no government body, refiners or upgraders expressed opposition to the application."

No one at the AFL's Edmonton offices was available to comment on the matter by press time this morning.

Daily Oil Bulletin, Mon July 21 2008
Byline: James Mahony

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