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This article was published 12/9/2017 (1136 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TransCanada pulling out of the Energy East oil pipeline project would be a blow to the local economy, which is poised to benefit from the infrastructure project.
In response to the National Energy Board’s new assessment process, the energy infrastructure company suspended its application last week while it reviews these changes over the subsequent 30 days.
Joining the Liberals’ carbon tax, the new assessment process is another failure of the federal government to promote commerce, Centec Electric & Controls president Scott Johnston said.
"Don’t get me started on that guy," he said of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "He’s not worried about what’s going on down at the grassroots level."
The Brandon-based company currently employs approximately 20 electricians, which is down significantly from the approximately 80 they employed in 2014, before the oil industry took its nosedive.
The recent green lighting of Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline through Westman and into the United States served as good news for Centec, whose leadership promptly put in a bid to take on the project’s pumping stations.
These stations usually have two or three 6,000- to 7,000-horsepower engines, with each station costing between $1.7 million and $2 million. The Manitoba stretch of Line 3 would need approximately five of these stations.
Cantec has agreed to hold its price until Dec. 4 in hopes of securing this large-scale project, which would see between 10 and 12 people hired per station for a construction period that would last as long as five months.
In the event that the Energy East oil pipeline moves forward in its construction north of Brandon, Johnston said that his company would bid on its pumping stations as well.
It would be similar in scope to the Line 3 project, he said, adding that projects like these are integral to their future.
"If we don’t get something going we’d have to reduce staff," he said. "We certainly need a good 2018 and 2019 to rebound from the last few years."
Those at Brandon-based Kansteel Manufacturing Inc. are also rooting for TransCanada to follow through with the Energy East project.
While plant manager Uwe Linder said that they are not directly involved in the transportation of oil, they are heavily involved in the construction of oil treaters — large tanks with various components used to separate gas and clean oil from raw product.
Any uptick in the local oil industry, which Linder said Energy East would help provide, is also a boon for Kansteel.
He said that they went from not being able to secure enough welders a few years ago to looking for work, following the oil industry’s ebbs and flows along the way.
They currently employ eight people, including Linder, who said that he’s eager to see pipelines drum up greater activity in the local oil industry.
Kansteel is far from alone by indirectly benefiting from the oil industry, City of Brandon economic development director Sandy Trudel said, pointing to pretty well any business in Westman as being impacted.
Whether those constructing pipelines hire people locally or bring people in from elsewhere, she said, "The money they’re earning is getting spent in our economy," adding that the same applies whenever the oil industry perks up.
Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa Conservative MP Robert Sopuck said that he would continue pushing for pipelines such as Energy East when the House of Commons resumes sitting next week.
He said that he’s disappointed but not surprised to hear of companies such as TransCanada pulling out of projects, given the Liberals’ reintroduction of red tape.
"Canada’s pipeline and natural resources and energy industries are world class," he said. "They are environmentally sound and built to the best processes."
By reaching tidewater, Canada would open themselves up to the greater world oil price rather than limit themselves to the lower West Texas Intermediate crude oil price as they do today.
Further to the initial economic impacts related to construction of pipelines and the finished product’s promotion of local natural resource extraction, he said that each pumping station would serve as a boon to whichever municipality is "lucky enough" to get one, since they incur property taxes.
Prior to his current role as a member of Parliament, Sopuck conducted environmental assessments, including those for the oil industry and of pipelines in specific.
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB
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