UPDATE 2-Canada's energy regulator starts review of oil pipeline to east

Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:44pm EDT
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(Adds comment from Prime Minister, cost of project and expected in-service date)

By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER, June 16 (Reuters) - Canada's energy regulator on Thursday officially launched its 21-month review of TransCanada Corp's Energy East pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta's oil sands to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.

The National Energy Board, which has faced public criticism over its reviews of major energy infrastructure projects, said its review of the C$15.7 billion ($12.1 billion) pipeline will be unique in that the general public will be given the opportunity to provide input.

The review will also consider upstream gas emissions, following new rules introduced by the ruling Liberals in January on the grounds that public trust needed to be restored in the process for assessing big energy projects.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking to reporters on Thursday, said his government had revamped the review process to ensure that all voices were heard and that any decision would be in the best interest of the entire country.

A final recommendation to the federal government, including any proposed conditions on construction, is expected by March 2018, though the regulator said the legislated timeline could be extended if needed.

Canada's resource minister has asked for six-months to review the recommendation before a final federal decision. The pipeline is expected to be in service by 2021.

"This marks an important milestone for the project and is a culmination of TransCanada's efforts to actively communicate and seek input since announcing Energy East three years ago," TransCanada said in a statement.   Continued...