Regulator demands details on Enbridge line reversal

Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:22pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada's energy regulator has asked Enbridge Inc to explain whether a proposed pipeline reversal is part of a bigger plan to export crude, a concern expressed by environmental groups seeking a more thorough review of the project.

The National Energy Board has asked Enbridge to provide more details of its Line 9 Phase 1 project, the initial part of a plan to reverse the flow of its Montreal to Sarnia, Ontario, oil pipeline to allow Quebec and Atlantic Canadian refineries access to western crude.

The board, which must decide on the level of review the project is subject to, made the requests at the end of an extended public comment period that attracted nearly 100 submissions from landowners, environmentalists, aboriginal groups and oil companies.

In a letter, the NEB asked Enbridge to explain by October 21 the relationship between Phase 1, future stages and a previously proposed plan called Trailbreaker, which would have moved oil sands-derived crude to the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard.

The NEB also wants to know if any of the phases is dependent on another, as well as the current status of the Trailbreaker project, which Enbridge floated three years ago, regulatory documents show.

It noted that many of the comment letters suggested possible linkages between Phrase 1 and Trailbreaker.

The C$17 million ($16.7 million) first phase, which includes a reversal of flow between Sarnia and Westover, Ontario, has become the latest target for environmental groups opposed to development of the Alberta oil sands and infrastructure aimed at moving the crude to more markets.

Enbridge wants the project vetted under a section of the NEB Act allowing for a less intensive review, saying the first phase has minimal land disturbance and no adverse environmental or socioeconomic impact.   Continued...