TransCanada abandons $12 billion pipeline project after green push

Energy East pipeline

TransCanada President and Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling delivered the company's verdict on the project in a statement released Thursday morning.

"We still do not have a regulatory process that gives clear certainty to companies..."

Energy East was up for its second NEB review, after the first stalled a year ago amid protests by environmentalists and after revelations that regulatory panel members met privately with a TransCanada consultant.

The Canadian National Energy Board told the company in late August that the projects' environmental reviews would look at the total lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the projects - including from extracting, processing, transporting, refining, and eventually burning the fossil fuels.

"It means reduced (options) for Canada and Canadian oil producers to access global markets and to receive fair pricing for one of our country's most important export products", said Brett Harris, spokesman for Canada's No. 3 oil sands producer Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO).

"It really is a result of this constant, and I'll say this, drip, drip, drip of regulatory uncertainty that are impacting these kinds of infrastructure decisions".

The largest pipeline proposal in Canadian history met a bitter end this week, leaving behind a trail of delighted environmentalists, deeply disappointed industry stakeholders, and carefully measured government responses. Where charges of environmental negligence followed the approvals of the Trans Mountain and Line 3 projects, this time the government was savaged for being soft on jobs and economic growth.

After the Canadian government made a decision to look closely at the potential climate impacts of the project, tar sands pipeline developer TransCanada scrapped plans to build a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the East Coast of Canada, where oil would have been loaded on tankers bound for refineries in the Gulf Coast.

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Energy producers in Alberta had hoped the TransCanada projects would help them diversify their markets, with most of the existing pipeline network linking the energy-rich province to the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast.

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU), Canada's largest oil, gas and refining company by market capitalization, had hoped Energy East would allow it to replace USA and offshore oil at its 137,000-barrel-per-day Montreal refinery, said spokeswoman Sneh Seetal.

"As the industrial base of our economy, we need Saint John to be firing on all cylinders, and our government is committed to making sure that continues to happen", Gallant said.

Heurtel asked TransCanada Pipelines to supply a report on the environmental impact of Energy East in Quebec.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, vocal supporters of the project, are said to be "disappointed".

"Very proud" of the outcome, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who is running for re-election next month, said Thursday in a tweet.

The decision had been substantially priced in to the company's shares and TransCanada's stock was last up 0.4 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$61.15.

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