* Final arguments to be heard in April
* Timing hinges on release of review panel report in Dec
* Approval of massive project has faced repeated delays
TORONTO, Oct 7 Canada's energy regulator said
it will not hear final arguments in its review of the C$16
billion ($15 billion) Mackenzie Gas Project until at least
April, further delaying the potential approval of the massive
Arctic gas pipeline.
Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) said on Wednesday the
timing would depend on the release of the Joint Review Panel
report, expected in December.
The panel, an independent group appointed by the Canadian
government, is examining the potential environmental,
socio-economic and cultural effects of the project. The NEB is
looking at all other issues, including engineering, safety and
The 1,220 km (760 mile) Mackenzie line would ship up to 1.9
billion cubic feet of gas a day to the Alberta border from the
Mackenzie Delta on the Beaufort Sea coast. There the gas could
be routed on existing lines to Canadian and U.S. markets.
The project has suffered numerous delays while regulators
held an epic string of public hearings across the huge region.
At one point, the Joint Review Panel report was expected in
October, 2008. Environment Minister Jim Prentice told Reuters
last December he expected to receive the panel report at some
stage between March and May 2009. [ID:nN03351932]
The pipeline's backers are led by Imperial Oil Ltd
(IMO.TO), and include Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L), Exxon
Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and ConocoPhillips (COP.N).
(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Anshuman Daga)