Company preparing feasibility study to ship oilsands crude by rail to Alaska

A rail company is getting ready to launch a feasibility study this spring into its plan to send trains full of oilsands bitumen from Fort McMurray, Alta., to Alaska.

CALGARY — A rail company is getting ready to launch a feasibility study this spring into its plan to send trains full of oilsands bitumen from Fort McMurray, Alta., to Alaska.

From Delta Junction, in the Alaska interior, the oil would move in an existing pipeline — currently running well below its capacity — to the port of Valdez, where it would be loaded onto tankers and shipped to Asia. The railway would run about 2,400 kilometres.

Under the proposal from G Seven Generations Ltd., First Nations would hold a 50 per cent equity ownership stake in the project.

G Seven Generations CEO Matt Vickers, who has northwestern B.C. First Nations roots, said consulting with indigenous peoples along the railway’s proposed route early in the process is key.

So far, support has been strong and the Assembly of First Nations has endorsed the concept, he said.

“If you don’t have early engagement with the indigenous people — whoever’s land you’re on, wherever it is in the world — I don’t believe the project is going to work,” he told the Arctic Oil and Gas Symposium on Thursday.

Last month, a preliminary study by the Van Horne Institute — backed by a $1.8-million grant from the Alberta government — found there’s merit to the idea. It estimated a project with a capacity of up to 1.5 million barrels a day could cost as much as $34 billion.

The next step will involve doing a detailed feasibility study that will narrow down the railway’s precise route. Vickers said he wants that work to get underway before leaves return to the trees this spring so that the company can do survey work from the air.

The trains would carry raw bitumen in heated railcars. In the event any of that spills from one of the company’s specially designed cars, cleanup would be relatively straightforward, said Vickers.

“It’s going to come out like molasses and you’re going to be able to clean it up with a shovel,” he said.

Assuming a two-year regulatory review process, trains could be shipping about a million barrels a day by 2020. That would be about the same capacity as the proposed Alberta-to-Atlantic Energy East Pipeline, which has been contending with stiff political opposition.

It would undergo a different regulatory process than the one for Energy East and other interprovincial pipelines — with Transport Canada reviewing the proposal, not the National Energy Board.

Like the Keystone XL pipeline that U.S. President Barack Obama nixed in November after seven years of political wrangling, the G Seven Generations proposal would need U.S. permission to cross the border.

Vickers said the Alaska governor and Valdez mayor are keen on the proposal, so he’s not expecting politics to be as much of a headwind.

Yukon Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Scott Kent said he also expects the permitting process to be less complicated than it was for Keystone XL.

“There’s not as many landowners as you’d find as a project like Keystone XL,” he said.

“But that said, all of these projects would require environmental screening and have to undergo that scrutiny so that we manage the environmental risk as best we can.”

Just Posted

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

Updated: Collision expert backs version of crash of driver accused of manslaughter

Daniel Newsham accused of manslaughter in fatal 2016 collision

Red Deer artist highlights the dinosaur connection of Alberta birds

Jeff Powers is fascinated by winged creatures

Murder charges laid against woman from the Sunchild First Nation

The 25-year-old female victim was found dead on Dec. 12

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

WHL’s Thunderbirds, Silvertips open to NHL joining Seattle hockey market

TORONTO — The Seattle area’s major junior hockey teams aren’t worried about… Continue reading

Canadian freestyle skier Karker excited for Dew Tour’s modified superpipe

Rachael Karker has a renewed sense of confidence heading into her second… Continue reading

CBS settled with Dushku over ‘Bull’ star’s sexual comments

LOS ANGELES — CBS reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement last year… Continue reading

Kanye reignites Drake feud on Twitter, alleges threats

LOS ANGELES — Kanye West is not sending Christmas cheer to Drake.… Continue reading

Councillors in Toronto, Ottawa vote to allow retail cannabis stores

TORONTO — Councillors in Toronto have voted to allow retail pot shops… Continue reading

Barry Cooper: Separation has become a real possibility, thanks to Ottawa’s abuses

In the past couple of weeks, a retired senior oil executive, Gwyn… Continue reading

Most Read