(Edmonton Journal; Sept. 4) - Enbridge will be grilled this week on its $6 billion Northern Gateway project as hearings enter the final phase where interveners can challenge the company's evidence. Enbridge will square off with unions and First Nations, as oilsands producers appear in a joint witness panel. Alberta's government will also appear for the "questioning" phase of the federal Joint Review Panel examining the economic benefits of the proposed pipeline to carry Alberta bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., for export to China.
Critics like the Alberta Federation of Labour will argue Canada's refining industry will shrink if the pipeline goes ahead and diverts bitumen feedstock to China. Opponents will also argue there is plenty of room in existing pipelines to handle growing bitumen exports. Enbridge, however, is "very confident" going into the hearings as it will finally have a chance to respond to critics, said spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht.
"This is our first chance to speak; it's going to be a rigorous questioning and we welcome that," Giesbrecht said. "We really feel the project will benefit both provinces and Canada." Enbridge's project - twin pipelines, with one to carry 585,000 barrels of diluted bitumen west and another to carry the diluent east - faces growing resistance from First Nations, environmental groups, and the B.C. government that wants a larger slice of the economic benefits. The federal panel hearings will continue into November.
Oil and Gas News, Sept 6 2012
Compiled by: Larry Persily