The Canadian Building Trades and its nearly 500,000 members across Canada have come out in support of TransCanada Pipeline’s plan to transport Western Canadian oil to Eastern markets in Quebec and New Brunswick. TransCanada announced that producers will be able to bid for space on the pipeline during a two-month period. The pipeline could carry up to 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
A spokesman for the Building Trades, Robert Blakely, said that the TransCanada plan supported its goal of energy self-sufficiency based on our own energy sources. “We are very much heartened by this announcement,” said Blakely. “It is nation building and in the best possible way. Beyond the large number of jobs involved in the construction and maintenance of the pipeline itself; the pipeline is more than just a utility. It connects thousands of high skilled, well-paid jobs in Alberta that will extend for the life of the Energy East project to thousands of high skilled, well-paid jobs in Central and Atlantic Canada. The successful completion of the ‘Open Season’ will be a win for all Canadians.”
TransCanada’s announcement comes just two days after Total SA of France said that it would sell its 49 per cent stake in an Alberta oil sands project to Suncor Energy for a $1.65 billion loss. Total would have faced spending an additional $5 billion on the Voyageur Upgrader project and decided that the expense could not be justified.
Total’s exit from the oil sands raises questions about the viability of the projects. One of these questions is whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in fact in the interests of the United States, given that production has been rising there and Canadian oil sands less necessary.
However, the Canadian Building Trades describe the TransCanada plan as “timely” and a good fit with the recent federal budget, which supports the growth of the skilled trades careers in Canada. “Energy jobs are the future and those careers will be in demand.”
Phil Flemming, international vice-president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said that Canada will need “to train and attract 300,000 new skilled trades workers in the near term.” This project, he said, will provide “thousands of those jobs.”
Mary Dougherty, the Canadian Director of the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association of the United States and Canada (OPCMIA) concurred that the Energy East plan will lead to jobs in the direct construction and maintenance trades and the indirect and induced support jobs. “We see this project as a conduit to a better future for all Canadians.”