Canada’s National Energy Board said Oct. 7 that it expects to hear final arguments on the proposed C$16 billion Mackenzie pipeline in April, concluding a process that began in 2006, following the 2004 applications of the individual members of the Mackenzie Gas Project consortium to build the line to bring natural gas from the Mackenzie Delta to market.
The April date, however, is “dependent upon the release of the Joint Review Panel report, expected in December 2009,” NEB said in a press release.
The Joint Review Panel is examining the potential environmental, socioeconomic and cultural effects of the 720-mile pipeline project, whereas NEB is looking at all other issues, including engineering, safety and economic matters.
As part of its mandate, NEB has to “consider the Joint Review Panel’s recommendation and its proposed remedial measures,” NEB said.
Remedial measures could be incorporated as conditions into any approvals NEB grants the Mackenzie Gas Project.
In an Oct. 7 statement to the Calgary Herald, Pius Rolheiser, spokesman for Imperial Oil, the lead partner in the gas project, said: “It’s encouraging to see some confirmation of some critical points in the regulatory process,” noting that if NEB approves the gas line project, the partners will have to evaluate the decision and any conditions imposed before deciding whether to proceed with the pipeline and related facilities.
“The Mackenzie Gas Project is one of the largest infrastructure projects to ever be proposed in this country,” said NEB Panel Chair Ken Vollman. “It has been a long road to get to this point and we are very pleased to be approaching the final stages of our journey.”
Once final arguments are concluded NEB will make its decision and prepare a document called a “Reasons for Decision,” that will essentially announce its decision regarding the gas line application, and provide the reasoning behind its decision.
The partners in the Mackenzie Gas Project are Imperial Oil Resources Ventures, the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, Imperial Oil Resources, ConocoPhillips (North), Shell Canada and ExxonMobil Canada Properties.