Pipeline route sharing idea pondered by Enbridge

But company first focused on having its Northern Gateway plan approved by federal government

ENBRIDGE would consider sharing portions of its Northern Gateway pipeline route, if approved, with liquefied natural gas companies now planning their own projects, says a senior company official.

In Terrace Nov. 8 to speak to the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce, Janet Holder didn’t go into detail about which LNG companies Enbridge could work with.

But it was one of many pieces of information provided by Holder during her stop in Terrace.

“Northern Gateway is committed to working with communities and other project proponents to minimize impacts,” Holder said later by email.

According to Enbridge official Katherine Coutinho, Holder’s comments about sharing the right of way was specific to tunnels needed at certain points along the route.

In some locations the Northern Gateway pipeline would run inside tunnels bored through mountains.

Enbridge is now waiting to hear from a federal review panel which has spent the past two years studying the company’s proposal to build a 1,170 kilometre pipeline to carry Alberta crude to a marine export terminal at Kitimat.

Up to 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day would be pumped through the 91 centimetre pipeline to Kitimat where it be shipped via approximately 225 tankers a year to Asian markets.

The prospect of a shared energy corridor was contained as a recommendation in a provincial legislature finance committee report released Nov. 14.

The committee spent the fall traveling the province gathering ideas for incorporation into the 2014 provincial budget and its report contained a number of recommendations.

A shared pipeline corridor was part of a recommendation that the province study the combined impact of LNG projects proposed for the northwest.

Opposition has sprung up to this idea, however, if the shared corridor means that both the LNG and Enbridge projects might have access to the corridor.

“I don’t want to see any energy corridor that would then allow Enbridge to run a pipeline down it,” said Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin.

The project is actually two pipelines because Enbridge would build a second, smaller one to import an oil-thinning agent called condensate via other tankers docking at Kitimat.

The condensate would then be pumped to Alberta where it would be mixed with bitumen, making it easier to transport the latter through the larger pipeline.

Holder’s ten-minute presentation Nov. 8 updated the Chamber on the project while presenting its benefits.

The Chamber, comprised of members of the Terrace business community, previously voted to stay neutral on the proposed project in response to Terrace council having voted to oppose it in 2012.

Holder said the final recommendations from the federal review panel will be presented the middle of next month.

She’s confident Enbridge will receive conditional approval with upwards of 200 conditions to be met by the pipeline company before construction could begin in 2015.

She said the federal government will have 180 days, until about July 1 of 2014, to make a final decision.

Holder portrayed Enbridge as a company that doesn’t want to get involved in debates about revenue sharing, saying it wants to avoid “a political fray”.

With regards to the oil refinery near Kitimat proposed by David Black, owner of Kitimat Clean and Black Press, which publishes The Terrace Standard among 150 other publications, Holder said Enbridge is indifferent.

“I think what I heard in the media was that Enbridge was not supportive of a refinery and that is not our position,” said Holder. “As a pipeline company, we are indifferent to whether there is a refinery or not a refinery.”

Black said he approached oil companies who have invested in the Enbridge project some time ago, and they aren’t warm to his refinery plan.

“The producers were not in favour,” said Black, but added that “time will tell.”

“I am working under the assumption that we have to install our own pipeline.”

If the Enbridge line is approved, Black said he would consider approaching the company to share the route for the pipeline needed by the refinery.

While Enbridge is promoting the economic benefits as the primary benefit of their project to B.C., Holder was unable to say exactly how many jobs would go to people who live in the Terrace area.

She said Enbridge has “made a commitment, without a number, to hire locally.”