08/01/2013 07:47 EDT | Updated 10/01/2013 05:12 EDT

TransCanada moves forward with west-east pipeline

Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. plans to move forward with its proposed Energy East Pipeline project, the company said today.

The pipeline proposal, which still needs regulatory approval, will send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.

The company said in a news release it received “strong market support” during its open season process, during which interested producers were asked to make binding commitments for space on the pipeline.

"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, said in a news release on Thursday.

"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 pipeline project is expected to cost $12 billion, excluding the transfer value of Canadian Mainline natural gas assets, according to the company.

TransCanada is proposing to convert roughly 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline on its existing Canadian Mainline route so it can carry crude oil.

The company would also construct 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline to carry crude oil into Saint John, where it will end at the Canaport LNG terminal.

The Irving Oil Ltd. refinery in Saint John is the largest in Canada and can process 300,000 barrels of oil per day. Saint John also has a deep-water port and a liquefied natural gas facility.

TransCanada and Irving Oil Ltd. have also formed a joint venture to build and operate a new deep water marine terminal, according to the corporate statement.

The company said it would start seeking regulatory approvals on the pipeline in 2014 and the oil could start flowing to Eastern Canada by late 2017.

New Brunswick Premier David Alward and Alberta Premier Alison Redford have been outspoken advocates for the pipeline.

Redford said in a statement on Thursday morning the pipeline project will create co-operation among provinces to get Canadian oil into international markets.

“This is truly a nation-building project that will diversify our economy and create new jobs here in Alberta and across the country,” Redford said in a statement.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has said the pipeline is in the national interest.

More to come