Enbridge says it wants more time for its proposed oil pipeline and tanker project.
Northern Gateway and its 31 Aboriginal Equity Partners have filed a request with the National Energy Board for a three-year extension to what’s known as the sunset clause, the deadline for the proponent to start construction.
In a news release, the company says it needs more time for the project to receive legal and regulatory certainty and to continue discussions with First Nations and Metis communities. Northern Gateway says, more importantly, that it wants to advance dialogue with coastal communities in northwest BC.
The project received the green light in 2013 subject to over 200 conditions, but the plan to pipe Alberta oilsands crude for shipment by tanker from Kitimat has faced stiff opposition from northwest communities.
President John Carruthers admits Northern Gateway should have done a better job listening to First Nations and says the company is committed to a true partnership with First Nations and Metis.
“Northern Gateway has changed. We are making progress and remain open to further changes. We believe this is the right course of action for Northern Gateway and the right thing to do as Canadians. We know this process requires time and we are committed to getting it right,” says Carruthers in a statement.
“Our priority is to continue to build respectful relationships with First Nations and Métis communities. From the beginning, Northern Gateway should have done a better job of building relationships with First Nations and Métis communities, particularly on the west coast of British Columbia. While we had the right intentions, we should have done a better job of listening and fostering these critical relationships and developing our plans together as true partners.”
The Aboriginal Equity Partner Stewards, including Chief Elmer Derrick of the Gitxsan, say that there is support among First Nation communities for the project and that they stand to benefit from over $2 billion from the project, a doubling of the original commitment. Northern Gateway says the available project ownership for First Nations and Metis partners will be boosted from 10% to 33% and that they will have an equal say with Enbridge as part of a joint governance structure.
A link to Northern Gateway documents filed with the National Energy Board can be found here.