Sylvan Lake man to add his voice to pipeline hearing

Greg Kolbeck only indvidual signed up to address National Energy Board

First Nations bands, major oilpatch companies and government agencies have signed up for a public hearing on a proposed $500-million pipeline expansion.

And Greg Kolbeck.

The Sylvan Lake man is the only individual among the nearly 30 dozen groups which have applied to be involved in the yet-unscheduled hearing on Nova Gas Transmission Ltd.’s plan to expand its 24,000-kilometre network of pipelines.

The company wants to lay 85 kilometres of new pipeline in West Country.

Kolbeck has made his career in the energy industry, and when he saw that the National Energy Board wanted to hear from those with an interest in the natural gas pipeline, he thought — why not?

“If there is a chance of doing that, why not have my voice heard also?” he said.

Kolbeck can draw on 15 years of oilpatch experience in the upstream end of the business, such as well completions and production, and he sees plenty of benefits for central Albertans from Nova’s plans.

Besides providing a lot of paycheques — Nova anticipates up to 1,500 jobs will be created — there will be other economic spinoffs, such as additional tax revenue for central Alberta, he said.

“I am very much a supporter of what they want to do and how they’re going about doing it,” he said.

He will likely give the NEB his views through a letter, rather than addressing the review panel in person, he said.

Maskwacis’s Samson, Louis Bull and Ermineskin Cree Nations, and the O’Chiese First Nation, near Rocky Mountain House, are among those who want a say, both citing the impact of the project on their traditional territories.

In its application, Ermineskin says its “concern is that this project will render areas that Ermineskin depends upon inaccessible or unsuitable for the exercise of treaty rights.”

The operation, especially the potential for a pipeline rupture, could “significantly affect Ermineskin members’ ability to exercise their rights …”

In response to questions about First Nations concerns, Nova Transmission said the pipeline being built by TC Energy will be “designed, constructed and operated in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

Top quality steel and advanced welding techniques will be used, and additional safety precautions are taken when the pipeline crosses roads, railways, waterways and communities, says the company.

Once in operation, the pipeline will be continuously monitored, with data sent to a centre every five seconds. When a drop in pressure is detected, valves close, stopping the flow of gas and crews are sent out to investigate.

An emergency response program is activated in the event of an emergency.

The 40 and 45 kilometres of new pipeline are designed to boost capacity to transport gas from northwestern Alberta to markets in central and southern Alberta.

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