(Adds comment from J.D. Irving in paragraphs 5-6)
BOSTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Two companies owned by the billionaire Irving family in eastern Canada appear at odds over some of the details of the country’s largest oil pipeline project, which one of them backs.
Forestry company J.D. Irving filed a notice with Canadian regulators this week, saying it was “vitally concerned” about how TransCanada Corp’s proposed Alberta-to-New Brunswick pipeline would affect its operations.
J.D. Irving is owned by the same family as Irving Oil, which is a key backer of the Energy East pipeline. The massive project is seen as Canada’s best hope of exporting its vast oil sands reserves to overseas markets.
In a filing with the National Energy Board on Monday, J.D. Irving said about 170 km (105 miles) of the proposed pipeline route would cross its forest holdings in New Brunswick. The company said it was concerned about such issues as “commercial impacts and environmental effects” of the project.
J.D. Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith said the filing was procedural and did not reflect any opposition to the pipeline project.
“We registered because of the likelihood the pipeline will cross our land, and we want to be kept informed,” she said. “But we are 100 percent, fully behind the project proposed by TransCanada and Irving Oil.”
J.D. Irving is one of North America’s largest landholders, with more than 5 million acres in New Brunswick and the neighboring U.S. state of Maine.
Irving Oil has played a central role in the Energy East proposal, partnering with TransCanada to build a C$300 million marine terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, if the pipeline project goes forward. The company has also committed to processing some of the oil at its huge refinery in the city.
Canadian Business Magazine’s 2014 edition ranked the Irving family third on its Top 25 most wealthy Canadians list, placing its riches at some C$7.85 billion. The Irvings’ scores of other companies range across a huge swath of industries, from real estate to ship building. (Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)