After a hailstorm of criticism over its Northern Gateway pipeline project, Enbridge finally has the chance to fire back.
The oil giant has begun to present its case at hearings in Edmonton, Alberta, which will determine if it can proceed with developing east-west pipelines that would ship oilsands crude from Alberta across the British Columbia (B.C.) wilderness to a port at Kitimat for shipment to Asian markets.
The questioning phase of the Joint Review Panel’s final hearings began September 4, 2012, and will extend through December 18, 2012.
Enbridge’s case, so far, hinges on viewing the Northern Gateway pipeline as a critical component for the future of Canada’s economy.
“…National projects such as the St. Lawrence Seaway and the TransCanada Pipeline have all attracted great attention and debate, but when constructed, laid the foundation for significant benefits for generations of Canadians. Our project is no different,” said Enbridge co-counsel, John Carruthers, in the company’s opening statement on September 4, 2012.
Enbridge assembled a witness panel to argue the economic merits of the Northern Gateway project. Among the panel’s members were Enbridge executives and Roland Priddle, a consultant to Gateway and former chair of the National Energy Board (NEB), which is reviewing the project.
Dr. Robert Mansell, a professor with the Department of Economics at the University of Alberta, testified about the change in the oil and gas sector. Mansell’s modeling helped establish the potential benefits of the $6-billion pipeline project.
“I believe, over the last decade, the ratio of expenditure in conventional oil and gas and in the oil sands has gone from the conventional industry being about two thirds and the unconventional, or primarily oil sands, being about a third, to towards the end of the period where oil sands expenditures as their share have now overtaken conventional oil and gas,” Mansell told the panel.
When panel hearings resume in Prince George, B.C., Northern Gateway’s counsel says it will present three witness panels. They will answer questions about how the pipeline component of the application will be designed and constructed, describing the project’s environmental and socio-economic effects.
Enbridge said it will also examine the company’s consultation with Aboriginal Peoples affected by Northern Gateway.
The panel reviewing the Enbridge project was established on July 5, 2010. The panel hearing will resume September 17, 2012.
According to the NEB, “based on the record, the Panel will produce a report that contains all the information for the environmental assessment as well as the Panel’s recommendations regarding whether the Project should be approved and the reasons for this recommendation. The report will also include terms and conditions that the applicant must implement if the Project is approved.”
For more info on the hearings, such as scheduling, please click here.
For the latest transcript of the hearing [September 8, 2012], please click here.