Enbridge Northern Gateway Files Reply Evidence To JRP

September 2012, Vol. 239 No. 9

Enbridge Inc. announced Northern Gateway has filed Reply Evidence in the regulatory application for the project and, contained in that filing, details further enhancements in pipeline design and operations. These extra measures build on the plan in the application presently before federal regulators that already far surpasses industry codes and standards.

“We recognize that there are concerns among Aboriginal groups and the public around pipeline safety and integrity. We had already planned to build a state-of-the-art project, using the most advanced technology, safety measures and procedures in the industry today,” said Janet Holder, Executive Vice President, Western Access, Enbridge Inc.

“With these enhanced measures, we will make what is already a very safe project even safer in order to provide further comfort to people who are concerned about the safety of sensitive habitats in remote areas.”

In a news release the company stated that “Enbridge and the Northern Gateway project team have worked hard to ensure this unique project would be built and operated to the highest standards. The measures contained in the Reply Evidence go above and beyond anything that has ever been done before in the industry.”

The extra measures include:
* Increasing pipeline wall thickness of the oil pipeline
* Additional pipeline wall thickness for water crossings such as major tributaries to the Fraser, Skeena and Kitimat Rivers
* Increasing the number of remotely-operated isolation valves. This would increase the number of isolation valves in BC by 50%
* Increasing frequency of in-line inspection surveys across entire pipeline system by a minimum 50% over and above current standards
* Installing dual leak detection systems
* Staff pump stations in remote locations on a 24/7 basis for on-site monitoring, heightened security, and rapid response to abnormal conditions.

Enbridge said it expects these extra measures will carry an additional cost of approximately $400-500 million.

“After years of consultation with stakeholders and after personally attending many regulatory hearings for Northern Gateway, it has become clear – we have to do everything we can to ensure confidence in the project,” said Holder. “We’ve listened. We have often been asked if we could guarantee that we would never have a significant pipeline failure over the years on Northern Gateway. These initiatives will put the project closer than any pipeline system in the world to providing that guarantee.”

The Northern Gateway Project is a proposed 1,176-km twin pipeline system and marine terminal. The proposed project, currently under regulatory review, would transport 525,000 bpd of oil for export and import 193,000 bpd of condensate.

In another development, a new pipeline battle between the Alberta and B.C. governments could soon be raging over the expansion of an old oil line that runs to the West Coast, the Calgary Herald reports.

While public attention is focused on Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, British Columbia Environment Minister Terry Lake insisted his government also expects a planned expansion of the existing Trans Mountain line to meet five conditions for heavy oil transport in the province.

That includes a demand that B.C. receives its “fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits” of proposed pipelines that move Alberta bitumen to port, reflecting the environmental risks facing B.C.

“This is not about having a fight with Alberta. What we’re talking about here is a huge expansion and also product that is a little bit different in heavy oil, rather than the typical product,” Lake said.

The B.C. government has demanded a greater share of the benefits of pipelines that cut through its territory – including the proposed $5.5 billion Enbridge oil sands pipeline – for its support any project. Alberta Premier Alison Redford said the province will not pay royalty revenue belonging to Alberta in exchange for B.C. support.