Alberta bureaucrat appointed to head Canada's energy regulator

CALGARY, Alberta, June 13 Fri Jun 13, 2014 5:05pm EDT

CALGARY, Alberta, June 13 (Reuters) - Peter Watson, a former senior bureaucrat in Alberta's provincial government, has been appointed as chair of Canada's national energy regulator, federal Energy Minister Greg Rickford said on Friday. He replaces Gaetan Caron, who stepped down earlier this month after a 35-year career with the National Energy Board.

Watson, former deputy minister for Alberta Executive Council, the oil-rich province's senior cabinet group, takes over as chairman and chief executive of the board in mid-August.

Under Caron, the board dealt with controversial files like its approval of Enbridge Inc Northern Gateway pipeline project to take oil-sands crude to Kitimat, an export port in northern British Columbia, and that company's planned reversal of its Line 9 pipeline that will let Alberta oil reach Montreal.

However the new chair will have to oversee hearings into TransCanada Corp's planned Energy East oil pipeline from Alberta to the Atlantic coast and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP's proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which will triple the size of an existing Edmonton, Alberta, to Vancouver to 890,000 barrels per day.

Rickford on Friday also appointed Lyne Mercier, who has served on the regulator's board since 2008, as its vice-chair, effective immediately.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Gunna Dickson)