By Julie Gordon and Nicole Mordant
VANCOUVER Nov 5 Alberta and British Columbia
have edged closer to a deal that could help clear the path for
the development of new oil pipelines to connect Canada's oil
sands to the Pacific coast, although many obstacles remain.
In a framework agreement announced on Tuesday, Alberta
Premier Alison Redford agreed to support five conditions laid
out last year by her British Columbia counterpart, Christy
Clark, if that province was to support construction of oil
pipelines across British Columbia's pristine north.
The premiers of the two westernmost Canadian provinces
agreed Alberta would not share royalty revenue from oil
production in the province and that British Columbia had the
right to negotiate with the oil and gas industry for appropriate
The agreement removes one roadblock from Enbridge Inc's
C$6 billion ($5.74 billion) Northern Gateway project, a
525,000 barrel per day pipeline from Alberta's oil sands to the
port of Kitimat in B.C.
The project is a key part of efforts by the federal and
Alberta governments to open up export markets to Asia at a time
when congestion on pipelines taking oil to the United States
means crude is getting bottlencked in Alberta.
"In all five areas we are seeing progress. That doesn't mean
that we snap our fingers and overnight it is done, but we are
making good progress all the way along and that's important,"
Redford, standing next to Clark, told reporters after the two
premiers met in Vancouver on Tuesday.
The line, which is awaiting regulatory approval, still faces
bitter opposition from environmental groups and aboriginal
communities along its route.
"This so-called deal will not break the unbroken and growing
wall of opposition to tar sands pipelines and tankers in British
Columbia," Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada said in a statement
in response to Tuesday's agreement.
Along with demanding economic benefits from the line,
Clark's five conditions also included world-leading oil-spill
response and clean-up systems and aboriginal consultations.
Asked if she had backed down on earlier demands for a share
of pipeline royalties, Clark said: "I have always recognized,
and I've said it from the beginning, we don't know what form the
economic benefit for B.C. could take."
She cited a refinery as one of the potential benefits for
British Columbia, which could provide thousands of jobs and tax
revenue for the province.
Clark also noted that her government has an interest in
ensuring provinces protect their royalties, as British Columbia
gets substantial royalties from its growing natural gas
Six months ago the British Columbia government said it could
not support construction of Northern Gateway because it believed
Enbridge had not adequately spelled out how it would respond to
oil spills from the line.
In its final written submission to the Joint Review Panel
charged with recommending whether the project should proceed,
the province's Liberal government said Enbridge's response plans
for land and marine spills from the line had not yet been firmed
The panel is due to deliver its recommendations by year end.