By Scott Haggett
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp
As it waits on a long-delayed U.S. approval of its controversial Keystone XL project, TransCanada executives touted the benefits of the Energy East line. The pipeline, which would be North America's longest and most expensive, would move 1.1 million barrels per day of Alberta crude oil to Atlantic markets.
Citing a commissioned study by accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP, the company said the project would benefit the six Canadian provinces along the line's route and create as many as 1,000 jobs after construction is complete.
The release of the study comes as critics of the Keystone XL line continue to question TransCanada's claim that the project will create thousands of jobs. However, TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said the company stood by its estimate for the U.S. project and had developed the employment figure for the Energy East line from an industry-standard model.
"There are certain folks that are opposed to the development of pipelines and, I think, have purposely tried to confuse the job numbers," Girling said on a conference call. "What we are trying to do is be as transparent as possible in terms of the job numbers."
In terms of the 13,000 jobs TransCanada said the Keystone XL pipeline would create, "we can break (them) down job by job."
The 4,400-kilometer (2,700-mile) Energy East line would take oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to a deep-water port at Saint John, New Brunswick, where it could be shipped to refiners in the United States, Europe and Asia. The project will also let eastern Canadian refineries replace 700,000 bpd of imported crude with less expensive Western Canadian oil.
While environmental groups oppose the project, the Canadian government supports the concept of a pipeline to the Atlantic coast. Joe Oliver, Canada's minister of natural resources, said the line would contribute to the "energy security" of North America.
"Replacing higher-cost foreign crude with lower-cost Canadian crude for refineries in Quebec and Atlantic Canada would protect and increase job opportunities in the refinery sector and ensure a competitive fuel supply for consumers," Oliver said in a release.
TransCanada will convert 3,000 kilometers of an underutilized natural gas mainline system to carry crude oil through Saskatchewan to Cornwall, Ontario, near the Quebec border, a move that has some critics worrying that eastern Canadian natural gas supplies could be squeezed during a cold winter. However the company said the system would still be able to meet demand.
"We are committed to ensuring sufficient capacity is available to meet all of the ... needs," Girling said.
Shares of TransCanada were up 0.5 percent at C$46 in morning trading.
(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)