Enbridge likens Northern Gateway pipeline plan to nation-building – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – September 5, 2012)posted in Canadian/International Media Resource Articles, Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image |
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It’s prime time for Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway and the embattled pipeline company is switching the channel.
After years of controversy focused on the project’s risks to the environment, its impacts on First Nations and its uneven distribution of the benefits, Enbridge appealed to the greater good in hearings in Edmonton Tuesday. It was the company’s first opportunity to defend before regulators the $6-billion “national project” from Alberta to the British Columbia coast, and it likened it to the Canadian Pacific Railway, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the TransCanada Pipeline.
“All attracted great attention and debate, but when constructed, laid the foundation for significant benefits for Canadians,” John Carruthers, president of Northern Gateway, said to regulators. “Our project is no different.” In an interview ahead of the hearing, Mr. Carruthers said the project is important for the company, but even more important for Canada.
“It’s critical for Canada to be part of a growing world economy and get full value for our natural resources,” he said, referring to the deep discount affecting Canadian oils because there is insufficient pipeline space to move it to the United States, its sole export market. “That is the objective of the project.
“Today, oil is Canada’s most important export, and the oil sands are a tremendous driver of the Canadian economy and right now we are tied to one market only … And that is in a market that has served us well over time and but is maturing, and most people would see as declining, particularly as domestic production grows. Clearly, it’s in Canada’s interest to access new, large and growing markets, and those are the markets in the Pacific Rim.”
Enbridge also cast the project as a potential model for Canadians generally, for British Columbians and neighbouring Albertans, and for Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals to work together to resolve important differences.
It’s a defence few projects can use and that has its appeal. You can gain support for many unpopular things by extolling the greater good.
It’s also bigger than energy companies’ usual defence — that if it’s good for the economy, it’s good for everyone.
The question is whether it’s enough to sway narrow interests that have hardened over the years, among them those of the majority of British Columbians who are worried sick about the risks of a spill; First Nations who don’t like the risks to their lands and are critical of oil sands development; and Canadians worried about the speed of Chinese takeovers of Canadian oil and gas assets.
There are also commercial interests to be considered, and not all of them believe Northern Gateway is the best way to pursue the Asian energy market.
For the rest of this column, please to the National Post website: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/09/04/enbridge-likens-northern-gateway-pipeline-plan-to-nation-building/