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December 05, 2008 --- Vol 14, No. 112December 2008

Mackenzie gas pipeline project delayed again

Canada’s Mackenzie Gas Project has been dealt another blow, just two days after a federal cabinet minister raised hopes that final regulatory and government decisions should be reached in 2009. (See story in the Dec. 7 issue of Petroleum News, released at noon today at www.petroleumnews.com.)

The Joint Review Panel, responsible for evaluating the environmental and social aspects of the MGP, said this morning, Dec. 5, that its final report will not be released until December 2009 – the latest in a series of delays.

Chairman Robert Hornal said the panel has “carefully reviewed its workplan and its considerable progress so far,” but is required to base its recommendations to the National Energy Board on a “full and fair review of the evidence.”

The panel held 115 hearings days and received more than 5,000 written submissions.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice, the cabinet minister assigned to the MGP, told Reuters on Dec. 3 he was confident the Joint Review Panel could wrap up its work in the March-May period of 2009, allowing the National Energy Board to deliver its final verdict during the year.

Imperial Oil, the MGP lead partner, was unhappy six months ago when advised that the Joint Review Panel would not be able to meet its hoped-for mid-2008 target to make its final recommendations.

Imperial spokesman Pius Rolheiser made no attempt to hide his company’s feelings Dec. 5, telling Petroleum News: “Clearly this is not a positive development and clearly we are very disappointed.”

He said Imperial needs more time to evaluate the impact on costs and project schedules and would not be drawn into speculating on if and when the company might be forced to abandon the venture.

“Because of the economics, the Mackenzie project has never been a sure thing,” he said. “We remain committed to the project. But it is a sure thing? No.”

Editor’s note: See full story in the Dec. 14 issue of Petroleum News.

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