Canada Rejects Discounted Rates for U.S. Shale Gas to New Brunswick

Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline map – click for larger version

The Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline (M&NP) runs from Goldboro, Nova Scotia through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to the Canadian – U.S. border near Baileyville, Maine. The pipeline continues through Maine and New Hampshire into Massachusetts where it connects with the existing North American pipeline grid at Dracut, Massachusetts. It used to be that offshore natural gas from Nova Scotia fed the pipeline, which ran from north to south. But those offshore fields are running low, and the Marcellus/Utica appeared. These days the M&NP runs from south to north–at least part of the system does. One of M&NP’s big customers is Irving Oil, with a refinery and cogeneration (natgas-fired) power plant in Saint John, New Brunswick. Irving is an M&NP customer. However, another pipeline company offered to build a new pipeline to feed Irving Oil’s operations with natural gas, at discount. M&NP said that’s crazy. They want to keep Irving as a customer, so they cut a deal with Irving to import natural gas from the U.S. (in all likelihood, Marcellus/Utica gas), flowing the gas from the Maine border to St. John and Irving’s operation there. The only thing standing in the way is the Canadian National Energy Board (NEB)–which is kind of like our own Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The deal offered by M&NP requires NEB approval because it lowers the toll (fee charged) and changes directions to import/flow U.S. gas to Irving. Last week the NEB rejected M&NP’s plan, saying the plan is “premature” because the Maritimes region is facing a period of uncertainty. It is not clear (to the NEB) where natural gas will ultimately come from, and what the market actually needs. Offshore? Canadian fields? Import from U.S.? It’s not yet clear how it will all shake out. So the NEB turned down M&NP’s request. What happens now?…

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