Énergie Saguenay, a Quebec-based company, has announced plans to construct an underground natural gas pipeline that will run 750-km from northeastern Ontario to Saguenay.
Though the pipeline, coupled with a liquidification gas plant, would carry an impressive $14 billion price tag and provide the region with a needed economic boost, it has been derided by local newspapers and environmental groups who say "they have seen this movie before."
The metaphor is in reference to the failed Energy East pipeline which ultimately succumbed to widespread environmental pressure. “It raises a lot of questions. Where is this going? Is it going to pass through farmland? It is going to go through wetlands? Anne Gilbert-Thévard, an environmental advocate at Coalition Fjord, asked.
The project, announced by Gazoduq through a release issued last month, is currently in the planning stages with construction scheduled to begin in 2022. Gazoduq plans to have the pipeline in service by 2024 “to coincide with the expected increased world demand for liquified natural gas.”
Pipeline advocates cite the difference between this pipeline and Energy East, maintaining that in the event of an accident, a natural gas leak is not as damaging to the environment as a heavy crude oil spill. Louis Bergeron, Gazoduq's President, says it is a "totally different project" with a lot of benefits for northern Ontario. "This is a $4.5 billion project, roughly 10 per cent of it will be spent in Ontario and there will be quite a few indirect jobs. 65 km of pipeline in northern Ontario, running north of Kirkland Lake and south of Highway 101, will also bring natural gas service to new areas, plus provide property tax revenue to northern municipalities. So a lot of indirect advantages also associated with the operation of the line."
Bergeron says the exported natural gas from this pipeline could help to wean industrial countries overseas away from crude oil and coal.