| OTTAWA, March 31
OTTAWA, March 31 It is impossible to say whether
the Northern Gateway oil pipeline or liquefied natural gas
projects will go ahead in the near future, British Columbia
Premier Christy Clark said on Monday.
"I don't know the answer to that," Clark said when asked if
Northern Gateway, an Enbridge Inc project to take oil
from Alberta to British Columbia's Pacific Coast and on to Asian
markets, would proceed any time in the near future.
"It's hard for me to predict the outcome."
Canada's regulators recommended on Dec. 19 that the federal
government approve the C$7.9 billion ($7.2 billion) project, and
Ottawa expects to make its decision by mid-June but it is
expected to face legal challenges after that.
The pipeline is fiercely opposed by environmentalists who
fear the risk of a spill and the potential for the pipeline to
speed the development of Alberta's oil sands. Many of the
aboriginal groups, known as First Nations, who live near the
proposed route are also fighting to block it.
Clark noted former federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim
Prentice, hired by Enbridge to smooth over relations with
aboriginal communities, has a good track record.
Separately, she said she hoped some liquefied natural gas
(LNG) projects get the corporate go-ahead soon but noted: "These
are private-sector decisions and we don't control them. They are
looking at their investment all around the world, from British
Columbia to Mozambique to Australia to Qatar."
She added: "My job is to do everything we can in terms of
the tax structure, readying the work force, making sure we're
building relationships with First Nations and communities, so
that British Columbia gets to the top of their list of the
places (where) they want to invest. So I hope we'll see some
final investment decisions by the end of the year, but I can't
Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney said proponents of
the LNG projects, which would carry British Columbian gas to
China and other foreign markets, had made it clear that the
biggest barrier was the gap in needed skills.
The federal and British Columbia governments signed labor
agreements on Monday which they said would help the LNG plans
(Additional reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Jeffrey
Hodgson and David Gregorio)