Canada minister says Northern Gateway line can still go ahead

Thu Jan 3, 2013 12:32pm EST
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* Oliver says it's possible to win over critics

* Regulatory approval could help sway opponents, he says

* Commentator urges Harper to convene pipeline summit

* Controversy spurs proposal for rail line to Alaska

OTTAWA, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Proponents of the planned Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta's oil sands to Canada's West Coast can still carry the day even though the project has generated a wave of opposition, the country's natural resources minister said.

"I am still of the belief that we can get this done, on the assumption, of course, that it passes regulatory muster," Joe Oliver told Postmedia News in an interview published on Thursday.

"If the conclusion is this project can be safe for Canadians, safe for the environment ... that, I hope, will go a long way in respect at least to people who are kind of open-minded to the facts."

Both the federal and Alberta governments, as well as the oil industry, are keen for the C$6 billion Enbridge Inc pipeline to be built to enable the increasing supply of crude from the oil sands to satisfy thirsty Asian markets.

A glut of Albertan oil relative to current pipeline capacity has forced deep discounts that are taking a toll on provincial and federal coffers as well as oil company profits.   Continued...