BY PATRICIA WILLIAMS - The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC) have both applauded a recommendation by a federal joint review panel that the federal government approve the proposed $7.9-billion Enbridge Northern Gateway project.
The panel proposed, however, that such approval be contingent upon 209 environmental, safety and financial conditions being met.
In a report issued Dec. 19, the panel concluded that overall, the project “constructed and operated in full compliance” with the required conditions is in the Canadian public interest.
“The panel finds that Canadians would be better off with this project than without it,” said the report.
Northern Gateway has proposed to build and operate a terminal at Kitimat, B.C. and two pipelines between Bruderheim, Alta. and Kitimat
The total estimated capital cost of the project is $7.9 billion, which includes $500 million for associated marine infrastructure. The project could be completed by late 2018.
A primary purpose would be to provide access for Canadian oil to international markets, as well as providing greater diversification in the supply of condensate used for diluting heavy oil.
Bill Ferreira, CCA’s director of government relations and public affairs, said his association believes conditional approval of the project is an important step to expanding markets for Canadian energy products around the world.
“So, we are quite pleased to see the panel provide conditional approval,” he said.
“It’s a $7.9 billion pipeline project, so clearly that is not only going to generate significant employment as a result of the construction phase, but it is also going to generate long-term employment for not only Alberta but also British Columbia and allow Canadian energy exporters to reach new markets that currently are inaccessible.”
ACEC said the decision by the joint review panel, mandated by the federal minister of the environment and the National Energy Board, now paves the way for a federal approval of “what will be an important and beneficial piece of infrastructure for Canada’s economy.
“Northern Gateway is important to Canada’s long-term prosperity,” said association president John Gamble, noting that economic and environmental objectives need not be mutually exclusive.
“We need responsible resource extraction that offers economic opportunities while respecting environmental protection and social responsibility. We need Gateway and we need to do it right and we need to do it well. We believe that Canada has the skills and expertise to achieve a balance between our economic and environmental interests.”
The three major components of the project are:
One 914-millimetre outside diameter export pipeline that would carry an average of 83,400 cubic metres per day of oil products west from Bruderheim to Kitimat;
A parallel import pipeline, 508 millimetres in outside diameter, that would carry an average of 30,700 cubic metres of condensate per day east from Kitimat to the terminal at Bruderheim; and
A terminal at Kitimat with two tanker berths, three condensate storage tanks, and 16 oil storage tanks.
ACEC noted that the joint review panel stated that environmental burdens associated with project construction and routine operation can generally be effectively mitigated and that continued monitoring, scientific research and adaptive management could further reduce adverse effects.
Further to this, the design, construction and ongoing operations and maintenance associated by this project will be expected to meet or exceed the 209 conditions proposed by the panel.
“Oil and gas will continue to be part of the Canadian economy for some time and we need to get our oil and gas resources to market,” Gamble said.
“We need to diversify energy exports away from the United States and towards more rapidly growing economies. Gateway can accomplish just that. ACEC and its member companies applaud the panel’s work and report, and urge the federal government to proceed with approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline.”