Keeping Mackenzie gas line hearings on track
For Petroleum News
Canada’s National Energy Board is preserving continuity in its handling of the Mackenzie Gas Project by naming former board chairman Ken Vollman as a temporary member of the federal regulatory agency.
Vollman, 63, will continue to chair the Mackenzie review, guiding the hearings to an expected conclusion over the next two years.
He retired June 2 after seven years as board chairman, raising some concerns that his knowledge of the project and even-handed guidance of the hearings would be lost, further slowing the regulatory phase.
A spokesman for the board said the reappointment of Vollman would “ensure stability” in handling what has been described as the most complex application in NEB history.
The NEB is expected to issue its final report by late 2008, almost three years after opening hearings, on whether the project is in the public interest and under what terms and conditions it can be built.
Earlier this year, the board issued a directive containing 74 possible conditions that would be attached to any approvals, covering three aspects of the project — pre-construction, construction and operation.
The biggest surprise was a “sunset clause” setting a Dec. 31, 2010, deadline for construction to begin; otherwise the approval certificate would expire.
Imperial Oil, on behalf of the co-venturers, while agreeing a certificate should not be issued for an indefinite period of time, asked for a five-year limit given that about half of the project’s 7,000 required permits would be needed before a decision could be made to proceed with construction.
Resolving that matter will be one of the immediate priorities for Vollman and the board panel.