Commentary: Port Saint John is Ready for This Pipeline

Canada’s “port extraordinaire” – that’s what one west coast newspaper dubbed Saint John. This is a city where red cranes and red brick share the skyline seamlessly. The marriage of culture and industry make this city unique.

A recent case study by the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management drew links between population increase and creative economic growth – using Saint John as an example.

Why shouldn’t industrial growth have the same effect?

Any discussion of an eastbound oil pipeline from Alberta must be a discussion about Saint John. Port Saint John has an illustrious industrial history in energy, paired with infrastructure and experience.

Our port is a tried and tested oil handling facility.

Port Saint John is Canada’s eastern energy terminal located next to the Irving Oil Refinery, Canada’s largest with a production capacity of over 300,000 barrels per day. We handle 28 million metric tonnes of petroleum cargo annually, making us by far the country’s largest oil port. We’re also Canada’s only port that handles liquefied natural gas (LNG).

We handle the largest crude carriers in the world and have more than 50 years experience importing and exporting petroleum cargo.

Port Saint John is also committed to our natural environment. In the Port’s oil handling history, there has never been a major incident to compromise environmental safety.

We offer coordinated security, safety and environmental response services. Our oil handling facilities are compliant with all federal and international environmental regulations, including designated shipping lanes developed in conjunction with marine wildlife organizations.

We have demonstrated commitment to green initiatives and were the first east coast port to become a member of Green Marine’s environmental program.

Port Saint John is ready for this pipeline. Our proven capabilities and infrastructure put us in an ideal position to take advantage of this nation-building opportunity.

A cross-Canada pipeline is in the public interest. Survey results released on Mar. 4 by Ottawa strategic research firm Abacus Data show 78 per cent of Canadians support an east-west pipeline. The survey asked 1,832 respondents across Canada what they thought.

This pipeline, an opportunity to unite provinces, has already united New Brunswick politicians. The province’s three major parties have already expressed their support for the project.

People want to see valuable resources stretch across the country and abroad. That’s what this pipeline will do. It has the power to bring energy products to more Canadians and generate revenue as those products are shipped across the globe.

This discussion is coming at a time of dire need for the province. Last fall, New Brunswick’s deficit rang in at $356 million after falling revenues impacted the government’s original projection.

Numbers from Statistics Canada show unemployment rates in the province jumped to 10.5 per cent in March.

In Saint John alone, unemployment is still 9.1 per cent. We need to think big. A project of this magnitude will bring significant and continued growth.

I commend Premier David Alward, former Premier Frank McKenna, Minister Keith Ashfield and our local MP Rodney Weston for their hard work and leadership in pursuing this generational opportunity.

Extending a pipeline to the city would be an unparalleled economic boost, both for Saint John and New Brunswick. Making Saint John a termination point would create jobs and keep workers here.

We must embrace this opportunity and pursue the value-added manufacturing opportunities that can arise when a region has access to such vast natural resources. We must look to other communities such as Sarnia, Ont. that leveraged access to western crude and created a vibrant petrochemical industry.

This would be an extraordinary opportunity for “Canada’s port extraordinaire.”

Word has already reached the west coast. Let’s keep the good news coming.

Jim Quinn is president and CEO of the Saint John Port Authority.

Download PDF: Commentary: Port Saint John is Ready for this Pipeline