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Study will determine feasibility of Fort McMurray oil transport by rail

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A Vancouver company is about to kick off a feasibility study to support the construction of a railway to transport oil from Fort McMurray, Alberta to a marine terminal at Valdez, Alaska.

A Vancouver company is about to kick off a feasibility study to support the construction of a railway to transport oil from Fort McMurray, Alberta to a marine terminal at Valdez, Alaska.

“We have been working on this project for five years and doing our best to fly under the radar until we got the right people informed to move forward,” said Matt Vickers, director of Generating for Seven Generations Ltd. (G7G).

“We have received the support of First Nations leaders along the proposed route. We also got a resolution of support to do the feasibility study from the Assembly of First Nations.”

G7G has formed a partnership with engineering firm AECOM to undertake a $40 million study to verify that the rail project is feasible and map out the best path.

Vickers said the study is scheduled to begin within the next two weeks and will take a year to complete.

“Studies have already demonstrated that a rail link to Alaska is a viable alternative to the oil pipelines currently being planned through British Columbia,” he said.

“This approach is timely because it promises significant economic benefits to First Nations communities and all of Canada while avoiding many of the environmental risks associated with current pipeline proposals and related supertanker traffic off B.C.’s West Coast.”

The proposed 2,400 kilometre railway would run northwest from Fort McMurray, Alberta to join the Alyeska Pipeline at Delta Junction, Alaska and carry oil to the Valdez oil terminal.

The proposed project will be built in three phases, with the initial phase taking about six years to complete at a cost of about $12 billion.

The launch of the feasibility study also marks the start of two years of consultation with First Nations communities along the route, as well as the provincial and federal government.

“We began with outreach to First Nations and tribal leadership and are now moving forward with informing the membership through community meetings,” said Vickers.

“G7G is pleased that we have been able to offer First Nations from Alberta to Alaska a 50-per cent stake in the railroad.”

G7G will consult and inform the First Nations/Native American tribes that will be directly affected by the project, as well as those that will be indirectly affected.

For this reason, the company will offer these groups 50 per cent equity or a profit share position in the project.

In addition, G7G has received letters of support from affected First Nation and North American tribe leadership for the project concept.

This includes a resolution passed by the Assembly of First Nations in Canada.

The G7G proposal is one of four that is being developed to transport Alberta oilsands to the Pacific coast for export.

Other projects include Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, a proposal to expand Kinder Morgan’s existing pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver and a plan by CN Rail to carry oil to Prince Rupert.

by Richard Gilbert

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