A delegation from the Moosomin Economic Development Committee met with Saskatchewan Deputy Premier Gord Wyant at the legislature last week. From left are Sinc Harrison, Deputy Premier Gord Wyant, Moosomin MLA Steven Bonk, Bill Thorn, and Kevin Weedmark.

Moosomin group asks province to take lead on Energy East

December 10, 2018 9:26 am
Kevin Weedmark

A group from Moosomin met with Deputy Premier Gord Wyant at the legislature in Regina Wednesday to discuss Energy East.

Moosomin’s economic development committee has been working to restart the national conversation on Energy East.

A delegation of Sinc Harrison, Bill Thorn and Kevin Weedmark met with Wyant Wednesday and asked the provincial government to take the lead among provinces in advocating for a return of Energy East.

Encouraged by meeting
The group was encouraged by the meeting.

“I thought it was very positive and very timely,” Harrison said. “The deputy premier was going to meet immediately after with the premier, and he mentioned to us that it was a timely discussion because the premier was heading off to a meeting with the other premiers and the prime minister.

“Hopefully it encourages the premier to work with the other premiers on bringing Energy East back to the table.”

Harrison said he thought Wyant seemed to be receptive to the group’s message.

“He seemed positive and very interested in what we are trying to achieve in this area,” Harrison said.

“It was a productive meeting, and I give full marks to MLA Steven Bonk for arranging the meeting with the deputy premier on short notice.”

Wyant says government in support
Wyant said following the meeting that the provincial government is fully in support of pipeline projects.
“Our government will continue to voice our support for pipeline projects such as Energy East,” Wyant said Thursday.

“We have heard the call for pipelines loud and clear, and will continue to engage the federal government to ensure our product gets to market.

“We are encouraged by the active voices advocating for a resolution alongside our government.”

Group asks for commitment
In a letter presented at the meeting, the economic development committee asked the province to take the lead on organizing provincial support for a second look at Energy East.

“The town and RM of Moosomin have asked us to look into reviving Energy East, as the original proposal put forward by TransCanada would have been important to our area, and to the oil industry which is very important to our region,” the group wrote in the letter.

“The proposal would have included a tank farm at Moosomin and feeder pipelines that would have given Saskatchewan oil access to eastern markets. Our committee has been working for over a year promoting Energy East 2.0.

“Our area municipalities were responsible for resolutions being passed by SUMA and SARM supporting Energy East 2.0 which they have taken forward to their national organization, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“During months of research we have spoken with many people in the oil and pipeline industries, including some of those instrumental in drawing up the original proposal for Energy East.

“We have heard again and again about the problem of getting Western Canadian crude to market and the devastating impact the lack of market access is having on our oil industry.

“We believe, based on our conversations with those in the industry, that a project similar to the original Energy East proposal by TransCanada could still be viable, if the federal government creates the right conditions for it to succeed.

“Crude oil by rail may be beneficial for the oil industry in the short term, but is only a stopgap measure, has disadvantages compared to pipelines from a safety standpoint, and could congest the rail system for other Saskatchewan commodities such as grain, oilseeds, pulses, potash, lumber etc.

“We ask the Saskatchewan Government to take a leadership role in working with the provincial governments of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick to lobby the federal government to create the conditions so that a pipeline to the east could be viable, by removing the consideration of upstream and downstream carbon emissions from new pipeline proposals—which are not taken into account for other developments—and reconsidering the aspects of Bill C-69 that would make pipelines more difficult to build in Canada.

“We would also like your assistance in emphasizing to TransCanada that the provincial governments are supportive of the concept behind Energy East.

“We believe that there is a solution to the market access issues affecting the Western Canadian oil industry, which has led to an increased differential, has led to a crisis in the oil patch, and has led to production cuts in Alberta.

“We believe that the private sector can provide that solution, to help get our energy products to market, as long as the federal government creates the conditions to make that solution viable—the same conditions that made pipeline projects viable in the past.

“We ask for your help in organizing the affected provincial governments to speak with one voice on this issue.

“Thank you very much for considering our request. We appreciate any assistance the provincial government can provide in this matter.”

Bonk says provinces working together may make a difference
Moosomin MLA Steven Bonk said he thought the meeting went well.

“I would like to thank Sinc Harrison and Bill Thorn and Kevin Weedmark for spearheading this project and all the work they are doing on Energy East. It’s something that’s very important for not only our constituency but for the province in general and for Canada,” he says.

“I think the request from Moosomin aligns very well with the direction that our government wants to go. For years it seems like Saskatchewan has been the only champion for the energy industry in Canada. This is something we’re working towards —more pipeline projects, more ways to get our energy products to tidewater, to alleviate some of the stress on our rail system, but more importantly to attract more investment into the energy industry because we’ve been battered by some pretty significant headwinds the last few years.

“I think the deputy premier was very attuned to the message that the Moosomin group brought forward, and was very receptive to it.

“He spoke with the premier right after that, and the premier was just on his way to the First Ministers meeting.”

Bonk said he believes the provinces working together can have an impact.

“Right now we have a strong coalition of provinces that are pushing for more development in the energy sector, and particularly in pipelines, but what we’ve seen from our federal government hasn’t made me overly optimistic.

“I think if we do have a strong unified voice from the provinces, it’s our best chance of having a project approved.

“If you look at the Alberta numbers alone, it’s $85 million a day that they’re losing in the oil price differential. We’re talking billions of dollars a year of lost revenue to our economy.

“This is something we need to remedy, particularly when we’re importing oil from foreign countries at world prices and selling our domestic oil at a discount. There’s no logic to it.

“We could be a lot further ahead if we could have more pipeline projects approved.”