Enbridge touts local benefits of Northern Gateway Pipeline
Mega-project would boost local economy, company rep
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 06:00 am
Members of the local business community gained insight Wednesday into the economic impact of a pipeline project currently in the midst of federal review.
Michelle Perret, community and municipal relations manager with Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, spoke at the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce lunch Wednesday to discuss the pipeline and local implications.
The proposed $5.5-billion project will transport crude from Alberta’s oilsands to the West Coast for export to new markets in Asia.
“The problem that we have here in Canada, and especially in Western Canada where the oil and gas industry has grown to be such a great importance to our economy, … is that the (United States) has options as to (where) they get their crude,” she said. “What we’ve done with this project is we’ve looked for other markets.”
The project involves the construction of a pair of 1,170-kilometre pipelines running from Bruderheim to Kitimat, B.C.
The project is currently under federal review, led by the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and recently began the questioning phase of final hearings. These began in Edmonton on Sept. 4 and will move to Prince George, B.C., at the beginning of October.
“We’re anticipating that the final hearings that started last week will conclude around Christmas this year. Final argument is in April of next year and if all goes well, we’ll have a decision in the next year,” Perret said.
If the project gets the green light, construction is expected to take two to three years.
“There’s always the opportunity anywhere in the capital region for these kinds of enormous projects to create employment and … investment,” said Lynda Moffat, president and CEO of the chamber. “
She said there is a lot of local interest in the project and the outcome of the hearings, which could ultimately create jobs and boost the local economy.
“We’re hoping that the St. Albert business people will see the business opportunities and take advantage of them,” she said.
The construction phase is where the greater Edmonton region will see the greatest economic impact, with construction spending estimated at $224 million with an additional $146 million to be spent on engineering, design and management in the region, she said.
Roughly $27 million will be spent on local goods and services in the Edmonton region, including $10 million for equipment rentals, $7 million for accommodation and food and the remainder for things like fuel, trucking and surveying.
Perret also mentioned significant jobs being created as a result of the pipeline, equaling 1,445 person years of employment.
The project is expected to increase Canada’s gross domestic product by $270 billion over a 30-year period, she said.
Many groups have raised concerns over the safety and environmental impact of the pipeline. She defended the pipeline, adding steps are being taken to ensure construction and operations are safe and environmentally conscious.
“I do believe that we can construct and operate this pipeline safely and I say that based on the incredible work that has gone into route selection for this project,” Perret said.
The hearings resume Monday and can be streamed online at http://goo.gl/luaAa.