Prospect of election looms over Mackenzie pipeline

CALGARY — The prospect of a federal election this year has one backer of the long-stalled Mackenzie pipeline concerned more delays may loom ahead.

CALGARY — The prospect of a federal election this year has one backer of the long-stalled Mackenzie pipeline concerned more delays may loom ahead.

“An election would certainly cause delay. There’s no question about it. We’re under a bit of a time crunch here,” said Bob Reid, president of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which is entitled to a one-third stake in the line.

The Mackenzie project cleared a key milestone on Thursday, after the National Energy Board issued what’s known as a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

The federal energy watchdog granted its approval in December, but needed the blessing of the federal cabinet before it could issue the permit.

The next order of business is for the consortium building the project — led by Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO), along with Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and the APG — to hammer out a financial agreement with the federal government.

Former environment minister Jim Prentice put the talks on hold last year until the regulatory process wrapped up. He has since resigned his post, and now the file is in the hands of Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan.

Among other things, the financial support could include loan guarantees, like the ones Washington has offered for a much larger pipeline planned for nearby Alaska.

“I don’t know what our fiscal discussions will come up with, but something to kind of level the playing field would be what we’re looking for,” Reid said.

The National Energy Board requires the Mackenzie partners to make a decision to move ahead with the pipeline by the end of 2013 and to start construction by 2015.

Once Ottawa and the project’s proponents agree on terms, the partners still need to hire staff, obtain thousands of permits from government agencies and local boards and complete loads of engineering work.

“With the work that we have to do, it’s important we move ahead fairly quickly on this,” said Reid.

Energy consultant Doug Matthews agrees a possible federal election is a major “wildcard.” In the event the file moves to a new minister following the potential vote, it could take several months to bring him or her up to speed.

Matthews said he’s frustrated that Ottawa and the Mackenzie backers have been tight-lipped about what kinds of incentives they have been discussing. Prentice first mentioned the offer more than two years ago, and no details have emerged since then.

Government officials form the Northwest Territories have been touting the economic boost the pipeline would bring not only to the North, but to the rest of Canada as well. Ministers in Ottawa and top executives at Imperial ought to be equally vocal, Matthews said.

“That part of it is outrageous, because there is no broad public support for the project, primarily because the public doesn’t know anything about the damn project.”

If built, the Mackenzie pipeline would connect natural gas from near the coast of the Beaufort Sea in the Northwest Territories to northwestern Alberta, where it would link up with TransCanada Corp.’s (TSX:TRP) vast network.

The most recent cost estimate in 2007 was pegged at $16.2 billion.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick sign memorandum of understanding

Demonstrators take cover from crowd-dispersal munitions from police outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department while protesting the shooting death of Daunte Wright, late Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Minnesota shooting charging decision awaited, protests go on

Police and protesters faced off once again after nightfall Tuesday

Storage tanks are shown at the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit on April 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul Sancya
U.S. oil comprised 77 per cent of Canada’s foreign oil imports last year: regulator

U.S. absorbed 96 per cent of Canadian oil exports last year

House prices in Alberta are going up in many communities, reports the ATB. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Alberta’s house prices are on the rise: ATB

Supply has been low, relative to demand

The interchange at Highway 2 and McKenzie Road at the south end of Gasoline Alley is being redesigned with two roundabouts. Construction is expected to begin this month and finish in October. (Graphic from Red Deer County)
Roudabouts coming to McKenzie Road overpass at Gasoline Alley

Project expected to improve traffic flow at busy intersections

A prairie fire in the Burnt Lake district. (Photo by Bert Fors via Red Deer Archives)
Michael Dawe: Fires of spring 1931 in central Alberta

Central Alberta has just come through a relatively warm and dry winter… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Opinion: Boris Johnson is to blame for what’s happening in Ireland

Twenty-three years of peace in Northern Ireland, after a sectarian war that… Continue reading

Canada's Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, fom left, celebrate after winning women's gold medal match against Brazil's team at the Beach Volley Worldtour Major Series, in Vienna, Austria on August 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ronald Zak
Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch (24) gets fouled by Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu throws to a New York Yankees batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau (13) scores the game winning goal on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender David Rittich (33) in overtime NHL action in Toronto on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Most Read