New Brunswick MP suggests upgrading pipeline system to ship Alberta oil east

FREDERICTON – A New Brunswick Conservative MP says oil from Alberta could be piped across the country to be processed in Saint John, N.B.

John Williamson said the recent decision by the United States to delay approval for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to Gulf Coast refineries is one reason for his suggestion.

Williamson said getting Canadian oil to Saint John could renew talk of building a second Irving Oil refinery and create jobs.

“This would create good-paying jobs that will keep New Brunswickers in New Brunswick and give Maritimers a greater opportunity to work at home as opposed to flying out to western Canada,” he said in an interview.

“Let’s get Eastern Canada talking and thinking about this.”

Williamson, who represents the riding of New Brunswick Southwest, said petroleum products from Saint John could be exported by pipeline or truck to the New England states, and shipped by tanker to other parts of the world.

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But a New Brunswick environmentalist is against the idea.

“We cannot continue to invest money in things that are going to increase the production and use of fossil fuels when we are facing extraordinarily dangerous climate change,” said David Coon of the New Brunswick Conservation Council.

“We’ve got to change course now.”

In a statement, Irving Oil spokeswoman Lesley Dickson said the company is able to process oils from all over the world.

“We have processed Canadian crude oils in the past and may do so in the future if logistics are viable,” she wrote.

Irving Oil and BP shelved plans in 2009 to build a second oil refinery in Saint John worth an estimated $8 billion. The companies cited the economic downturn and declining demand for petroleum products.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified the MP’s riding as New Brunswick Southeast.