Northern Gateway very much the long game

Large indusrial projects are measured in the decades

MANY years ago when Alcan was still Alcan, an employee said this about the aluminum manufacturer: “Alcan is just like a glacier. It moves a couple of inches every year and, eventually, gets to where it wants to go.”

That was about midpoint in the decades-long attempt by Alcan to increase its aluminum smelting capacity in the northwest.

Now, after ownership changes and several generations of proposals, propositions and ups and down, the result is the massive modernization project now underway in Kitimat.

This is by way of explanation of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway oil-exporting pipeline plan.

Nearly 15 years after it was first conceived and 10 years after Kitimat was identified as the pipeline terminus, last week’s federal government announcement that it was conditionally approving the project, it remains very much a young lad in short pants.

As Enbridge itself admits, it is no where near ready to begin construction, having yet to meet approximately half of the National Energy Board’s 209 approval conditions.

Northern Gateway faces innumerable hurdles, the most obvious being the well-financed and well-organization coalition of opposing aboriginal and environmental groups – not to mention the B.C. government.

Companies like to speak of “generational opportunities” in promoting large projects. For all sides, this is one of those projects.

Editorial, The Terrace Standad, June 25, 2014




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