U.S. approves Alberta Clipper pipeline project

Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:28pm EDT
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The United States approved Enbridge Inc's (ENB.TO: Quote) $3.3 billion Alberta Clipper pipeline project on Thursday, granting the project, which will deliver Canadian oil to U.S. refineries, a presidential permit, and raising the ire of some environmental groups.

The U.S. State Department said that allowing construction of the 450,000 barrel per day line serves U.S. interests by adding secure oil supplies from outside the OPEC nations at a time when political tensions in some producing regions threaten to interfere with oil shipments.

"The department found that the addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance a number of strategic interests of the United States," it said in a statement.

The department also said construction of the line would create jobs for U.S. workers in what it called a difficult economic period.

Enbridge, which hopes to have the 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) line up and running by mid-2010, said it expects to begin construction soon, creating more than 3,000 U.S. jobs.

"We're pleased we've reached this latest milestone and are in the process of mobilizing well over 3,000 workers and will begin construction within hours or days," said Denise Hamsher, a spokeswoman for Enbridge.

Most of the oil shipped on the line will come from Canadian oil sands producers, which have been under attack from some U.S. environmental groups and legislators for boosting greenhouse gas emissions because of expanding production in the oil sands -- a Florida-sized region of northern Alberta that contains the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East.

The State Department said it took greenhouse gas emissions into account when deciding to issue the permit, saying that the issue is best addressed through the domestic policies of the United States and Canada and through international agreements.

However, some environmental groups said the State Department should have shown greater concern about rising greenhouse gas output, the impact of oil sands production on northern Alberta's boreal forest, and the impact of boosting imports of a fuel that they consider to be more polluting than conventionally produced oil.   Continued...