Enbridge Chief Executive Officer Pat Daniel has opted to play Mr. Nice Guy in an effort to break the deadlock that threatens the Canadian segment of an Alaska gas pipeline.
He has offered to work with, not against rival TransCanada to build the $20 billion project — an idea that has previously been scorned by Hal Kvisle, Daniel’s TransCanada counterpart.
But TransCanada gave no indication of wanting to team up with its Canadian rival.
In taking the high road, Daniel told reporters at Enbridge’s annual meeting May 5 that “there’s lots of room for all of us to be involved.”
Enbridge would be “pleased” to form a partnership with TransCanada, he said.
“Ultimately we both should have a good opportunity to be involved. If there is any way we can work together, we will definitely make it work,” Daniel said.
The response from TransCanada was unchanged from Kvisle’s remarks in April that he does not see Enbridge as a “critical player” in the Alaska pipeline, despite strong backing from the North Slope gas owners, ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips, for a fresh start on the pipeline.
But TransCanada has never wavered from its position that it has the exclusive right under the Northern Pipeline Act to build the Canadian leg.
Pressure on Canadian governmentWith no sign of a peace pact between the Canadian pipelines, the pressure is on the Canadian government to cast a deciding vote — either to uphold the 1978 pipeline act or order the National Energy Board to effectively reopen the bidding.
The chances of an early government ruling are fading as the minority Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin struggles for its own survival.
A political tug-of-war between the Liberals and the opposition parties in Parliament could see Martin toppled this month, forcing a June election and putting a pipeline decision on hold.
However, a source in the Natural Resources Department told Petroleum News that the federal cabinet is also conscious of the need to resolve the issue, given the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment that are at stake.
To drive that point home, Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski met privately with Martin in Ottawa in April to make a case for building a pipeline “in the most expeditious manner possible.”
While emphasizing that he did not want to interfere in Canadian politics, Murkowski said a builder will have to be selected this summer if Alaska gas is to reach Lower 48 markets by 2012.