Canada’s First Nations may build alternative to Northern Gateway pipeline

Canada’s First Nations may build alternative to Northern Gateway pipeline

Kitimat, British Columbia. From Wikimedia Commos.

While Enbridge’s (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway Project suffered a fresh setback Friday after British Columbia’s Kitimat residents rejected the pipeline in a non-binding plebiscite, a First Nations-backed consortium revealed it is seeking to build an alternative duct to transport bitumen form the country's oil sands in Alberta to the West Coast.

In a statement Monday, Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings and Vancouver-based Aquilini Group say they have signed non-disclosure agreements with a substantial number of First Nations in northern British Columbia to earn a “social licence” for the project.

“It has taken over a year of carefully listening to the feedback and concerns of First Nations communities to learn what it might take to earn a social licence for such an important project,” the chairman and president of Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings, Calvin Helen, said.

The company’s proposal is to build a pipeline connected to an upgrader in northern Alberta or northeastern B.C., which it is said to minimize impacts on the coastal and inland waters, wildlife, and neighbouring communities.

Canada’s First Nations may build alternative to Northern Gateway pipeline

Enbridge $6.5bn pipeline would run from Alberta to a proposed super tanker terminal in Kitimat, BC.

“Collectively, this project would provide investment, training and employment, business and contracting opportunities, and resource revenue sharing opportunities in Northern British Columbia where communities are largely dependent upon the environmentally responsible development of natural resources,” the group said in the statement.

Meanwhile the Dogwood Initiative, one of the groups protesting the $6.5bn pipeline that would run from Alberta to a proposed super tanker terminal in Kitimat, is pushing for a province-wide vote on the project.

"This project would have serious ramifications for the whole province, so all British Columbians deserve to vote on it," Kai Nagata, Dogwood's energy and democracy director, said in a statement.

"That should extend far beyond just speaking to a panel or writing your local newspaper. Regardless of whether you support this proposal, the decision should be made by British Columbians."

Dogwood is using the new website LetBCVote.ca to get British Columbians to sign a pledge supporting a vote on plans to expand oil pipelines and tanker traffic.

In December, Enbridge Northern Gateway received key support from a joint review panel that recommended the federal government to approve the project. A final decision on the matter is expected by June this year.