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Eastbound and Downstream

Enbridge Pipelines is grappling with the challenges in reversing pipeline flow to bring Alberta bitumen to refineries in Quebec. Transporting oil sand product to refineries inside Canada seems like a good national energy strategy for energy-hungry and populous areas like Ontario and Quebec. This is really dependent on how much they keep for themselves and how much gets shipped to the European market from the East coast.

The single biggest challenge appears to be the reversal of Line 9 between Sarnia and Montreal. That piece of infrastructure is pushing 40 years old and is rife with maintenance issues including overall integrity due to stress cracks and corrosion. There are many methods to shoring up the existing pipe wall to prevent future ruptures but the process will be lengthy and expensive.

Brand new projects like Keystone XL are making extension and reversal projects in Canada more attractive to TransCanada’s competition. More refineries here would mean higher inventories, lower prices for consumers and increased export of refined products.

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