By Bill Graveland
CALGARY – The CEO of Enbridge Inc. said Wednesday he’s willing to work with the B.C. government to allay doubts it has about the safety of the proposed $6-billion Northern Gateway pipeline.
The province officially declared opposition to pipeline last week, telling a federal review panel the project shouldn’t go ahead because there are too many unanswered questions about how Calgary-based Enbridge (TSX:ENB) would respond to a spill.
“I don’t view it as a blow,” Enbridge CEO Al Monaco told reporters following a pipeline safety forum hosted by the National Energy Board.
“As a matter of fact, I think the B.C. position is pretty much what they’ve stated, which is they want to see more information, they’re going to input their views to the joint-review panel process and as, I said before, we see it as a pretty good roadmap to get things done.”
The 1,600-kilometre line would transport 550,000 barrels per day of oilsands crude from just outside Edmonton to a port in Kitimat, on the northern B.C. coast. There, oil would be loaded onto hundreds of tankers a year for transport to Asian markets. A parallel line would carry imported diluent, which helps heavy crude flow through pipelines, eastward for use in the oilsands.
Supporters of the project say it would free land-locked Alberta to expand its customer base beyond the United States — a development worth billions of dollars in additional revenues.
Monaco said he is eager to discuss the matter with B.C. Premier Christy Clark, but no meeting has been scheduled.
B.C. has left the door open to changing its mind before the panel issues its report at the end of the year, and included recommendations for strict conditions the government believes should be put in place should the panel decide to issue a certificate.
“What they’re saying is they have a concern around certain issues. We share those concerns. The project will evolve and we’re hoping that eventually we’ll be able to sit down with them and seek some more input into what they’d like to see,” Monaco said.
“You have to remember we are in a regulatory process and I think the B.C. government has submitted their views, which we accept and will work toward addressing.”
Monaco said Enbridge would attempt to provide additional information on its safety plans by the time the panel hears final arguments later this month.
But he said a lot of the detailed planning on issues raised during the consultation process won’t actually begin until Enbridge does a “detailed design” on the project.
“I’m confident it will go, but I’m not taking that for granted. We have a lot of work to do,” he said.
“From here on, the project is going to evolve further and we’re going to continue to work with the government and move forward.”