By Julie Gordon
March 6 Canadian regulators recommended on
Thursday that the federal government approve Enbridge Inc's
Line 9 oil pipeline reversal and expansion, conditional
on the company undertaking additional work on consultation and
safety, among other things.
The National Energy Board also said it had denied Enbridge's
request for exemption from "leave to open" requirements, meaning
the company must ask the board for permission to start up the
line after all work is finished.
"The board's decision enables Enbridge to react to market
forces and provide benefits to Canadians, while at the same
time implementing the project in a safe and environmentally
sensitive manner," the agency said in its report.
The approval is contingent on the company meeting 30
conditions related to emergency response, continued consultation
and pipeline integrity, among others.
Enbridge plans to reverse its Line 9B pipeline, which
extends from southern Ontario to Quebec, and boost capacity of
the entire Line 9 pipeline by 25 percent to 300,000
barrels-per-day (bpd), in order to ship western oil to
refineries in Eastern Canada.
The project is one of several major pipeline investments
proposed for North America, fueled by the rapid growth of
Canada's oil industry. Efforts to boost pipeline capacity have
been met with fierce opposition from environmentalists who argue
that Canada's oil sands are contributing to climate change.
Line 9 originally moved oil from Sarnia, Ontario to
Montreal, but was reversed in the late 1990s to pump cheap
imported crude west. Enbridge applied in November 2012 to
reverse the flow again, to pump oil eastwards to Quebec.
That would benefit refineries in the eastern Canadian
province, including Suncor Energy Inc's 130,000 bpd
Montreal refinery and Valero Energy Corp's
265,000 bpd Jean Gaulin refinery in
Canada's federal government now has 180 days to decide
whether to accept the board's recommendations on the company's
plans for the 639-km (400-mile) pipeline.