Countdown begins for decision on Northern Gateway pipeline
Canada’s federal government is expected to announce its final decision on Enbridge’s (TSX, NYSE:ENB) Northern Gateway proposed pipeline, which would run from northern Alberta to a tanker port in Kitimat, on the northern coast of B.C.
And while most think the Harper’s government will give the project a green light, there still are over 100 conditions from the 209 imposed by a group of experts last year that need to be met before construction can begin.
On top of the conditions outlined by National Energy Board joint review panel, Enbridge and its business partners will have to deal with a number of obstacles and potential legal challenges, including:
- Kitimat residents have recently voted against the pipeline in a non-binding plebiscite;
- Aboriginal groups who live near the pipeline route and shipping path are against the project and have said they will block it;
- Strong opposition from several environmental groups;
- The BC government has laid out five economic, environmental and consultative conditions that must be met before it will support the pipeline.
Enbridge, Canada's biggest energy transport company, first proposed its $7 billion (and climbing) project in 2004. The firms’ plan is to build twin lines across 1,177km, providing a steady stream of oil to tankers and opening Alberta's petroleum industry to Asia's oil-hungry markets.
The westbound portion of the line would carry up to half a million barrels per day, and the eastbound nearly 200,000 barrels of condensate – a product used to thin oil for pipeline transport.
Opponents have tried to step the project several times, as they question not only the impacts of more bitumen being pumped from the oil sands, but also the potential consequences of a spill for their fisheries and aquatic life itself.
Enbridge argues that the project would provide thousands of jobs and boost the revenues of Alberta, BC and Canada. The company also claims that over 200 experts and scientists have conducted a comprehensive environmental assessment and determined that the project is safe.