Moosomin has a unique place in the Saskatchewan oilpatch.
On the edge of oil production, there’s long be a few pumpjacks running north of town. But the number of directly-related oilpatch businesses has diminished over time. Now there are just a few left. But that doesn’t mean the oil and gas business isn’t relevant in the community. Far from it.
Moosomin is the only sizeable community in the region within relatively short driving distance of both the Enbridge mainline, which goes from west to east along Highway 48, south of Moosomin, and the TransCanada mainline, which passes north of the community. It has a compressor station near the Manitoba border. Thus, whenever big-inch pipeline projects have been built across the prairies, the crews are based in Regina (or White City, same difference), and then Moosomin, as construction progresses. There’s really no other community in the region that can handle the influx of such large crews.
Moosomin can do this, in part because of its large campground north of town, built by the federal government many years ago as part of a string of campgrounds along the TransCanada Highway. But it was privatized many years ago now, and its utility is somewhat limited now that major National Energy Board-regulated projects almost never start before mid-August, due to concern over migratory birds. As a result, by the time most of the crews get out of Regina and move to Moosomin, it’s time to blow the water out of the pipes in the campground.
By that time, it’s getting pretty cold to stay in a camper, anyhow, so hotel space is desirable. And if there’s one thing Moosomin has, its hotels and motels, due to its location, again, on the TransCanada Highway.
Moosomin has long had a string of older motels along the old highway route, but when the province completed twinning and relocating the highway a little further north of town, that led to the construction of three brand new, large hotels. Those hotels were especially crucial for the workforce that had bene employed on the multi-billion potash mine expansion at Rocanville, north of Moosomin. The big potash work is over now, but the hotels remain.
Every decade or so, since the 1950s, TransCanada and Enbridge have each added another pipeline to their mainline. Right now, Enbridge is building its Line 3 Replacement program, after having built the Alberta Clipper project in 2008-2009. A decade before that, it was the Terrace B project along the same right of way.
About 20 years ago, TransCanada put in a 42-inch pipeline on its right-of-way, past Moosomin. You might have heard of it. A number of years ago, the company proposed converting that larger natural gas line to an oil pipeline, Energy East, running all the way to St John, New Brunswick.
And this is where Moosomin comes to the fore again, and not just as a place for crews to stay for a few months during construction. Moosomin also featured prominently in plans for the but now defunct Energy East Pipeline.
If that project had gone through, it would have entailed the construction of a tank terminal northeast of the community, on the TransCanada mainline near that aforementioned compressor station near the Manitoba border. That tank farm would have included three 350,000-bbl. tanks.
There was an adjoining pipeline planned, the Cromer Latera, from Cromer, Man., where both Enbridge and TEML have major terminals. The lateral would have allowed southeast Saskatchewan and southwest Manitoba oil onto Energy East. Additionally, another proposed pipeline, the Upland Pipeline, would have allowed up to 300,000 bpd to be shipped from Williston, N.D. onto Energy East, via Moosomin, either directly or via Cromer.
TransCanada literally put Moosomin on the map, its map, for Energy East. It would have been Saskatchewan’s key, and crucial, connection with the pipeline, opening up totally new markets for our oil.
All of this would have led to a lot of business for Moosomin during the Cromer Lateral and Moosomin terminal construction. There would have been several permanent jobs at the terminal on an ongoing basis.
It is for these reasons getting Energy East back in action is a highlight of concern with many of the people we have spoken to in Moosomin. It should be a concern for all of Saskatchewan, and Canada.
They want Energy East to happen, to be resurrected from the dead. Moosomin is ready for it, and we should be too.