Arctic pipeline ‘never closer’

  • An Arctic pipeline has ‘never been closer’ said federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice.
  • Joint Review Panel should issue report by end of December 2009.
  • National Energy Board (NEB) expects to hear final arguments in April 2010.

Plans to build a pipeline along the MacKenzie Valley have been boosted by comments from Prentice, who said he is confident that the panel set up to assess the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of the pipeline will be able to deliver its report on time.

The MacKenzie pipeline, first proposed in the 1970s, will bring gas from the Beaufort Sea through Canada’s Northwest territories, traveling 1200 km to hook up with pipelines in northern Alberta.

The project is notable as it includes participation of First Nations, through the Aboriginal Pipeline Group. Inuvik Mayor Derek Lindsay says he doesn’t want to see any further delays. Local business is counting on a pipeline to boost the economy.

Once the pipeline is approved, it will provide important economic activity in the Beaufort Sea region

In light of Canadian and US policies aimed at moving towards cleaner fuel sources, North American natural gas demand will steadily grow. Natural gas is set to become more important in the energy mix, as it will help meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Although often considered a rival to the Alaska Pipeline project and the Denali project (competing Alaska pipelines), the MacKenzie line would access different gas fields to the other two.

The 1200 km line would transport 1.5 billion ft3/d from the MacKenzie Delta to the main Alberta gathering system. The pipeline consortium, which includes Imperial Oil, Shell Canada and ConocoPhillips, envisage start-up in the middle of the next decade.

The NEB is due to release its final decision next year, after which the project still must receive formal approval from the producers.

Published on 29/10/2009

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