The woman in charge of Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline project says the company plans to meet the five conditions the B.C. government has placed on the project in order to gain its support.
And Janet Holder, vice-president of Western access for the company says now is the time for businesspeople in the Central Okanagan to start supporting the project.
“I come here today to listen, learn and ask for your support as we move forward,” Holder told the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon speech her Friday.
Holder, a Prince George native, is embarking on a tour of the province, speaking to community and business officials as the company tries to drum up support for the project ahead of a recommendation from the National Energy Board’s joint review panel.
That recommendation—more likely a series of recommendations—is expected around Christmas. Then it will be up to the federal government to make a final decision and that is expected to be made within 180 of the joint review panel’s recommnedations.
Holder told the chamber the project is in the interests of all British Columbians because of the impact it will have on the B.C. economy.
“The stakes are very high for our province and for our country,” she said.
The proposed pipeline would bring bitumen and other oil products from northern Alberta’s oil sands to the B.C. port of Kitimat, where it will be loaded onto tankers and shipped to Asia. It as been highly controversial because of it’s possible adverse impact on the environment in the event of a leak.
Opposition to the pipeline has been growing amongst the public since it was first proposed and the B.C. government says if its conditions are not met, it will not support the plan.
But Holder tried to allay those fears, saying the company plans meet the government’s demands and said Enbridge will use thicker pipe than used before in the construction, employ “second-to-none” leak-detection methods and sensors to detect leaks or potential for leaks, have the best spill response measures if there is a leak, use double-hull tankers to ferry the oil offshore, use two pilots instead of one on the tankers for navigating B.C. coastal waters and use two “super” tugboats instead of one for guiding the ships out to sea. It will also build a land-based advanced radar system for North Coast, have manned remote pumping stations and provide specialized training for workers in communities along the pipeline route.
She said the $6.6 billion project would create 3,000 construction jobs and another 560 permanent,”high-paying” jobs one the pipeline is up and running.
“Those paycheques will help generate $1.2 billion in revenue for the province over a generation (30 years),” she said.
She said for her it is not the economics of the pipeline itself but rather the benefits to the province that is the real “promise of the pipeline.”
According to Holder, Canada exports all its oil —$73 billion per year’s worth—to the U.S. and a one-customer market is not sustainable or smart.
She compared it to the Okanagan only marketing itself to Washington State visitors.
Holder said Asian countries are willing to pay a premium price for Canadian oil and the best place to ship it to Asia from the northern B.C. coast.
Asked after her speech why the shipping port would be Kitimat and not Prince Rupert, which has a deeper harbour, Holder said her company does not want to built the pipeline on seismic plates and to get to Prince Rupert would require doing so. She said there is also concern about some soils in a valley running to Prince Rupert.
Asked about the companies reputation for dealing with leaks from its pipelines elsewhere in the past, Holder said Enbridge spends $5 billion per year upgrading its pipelines and associated equipment.