Canadian province threatens to stop proposed oil pipeline

Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:21pm EDT
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(Reuters) - The Canadian province of British Columbia on Tuesday threatened to block Enbridge Inc's plan to build a C$6 billion ($5.90 billion) pipeline bringing crude from Alberta to the Pacific Coast unless its neighbor shares more of the revenue generated by the project.

The Northern Gateway pipeline is designed to take oil from Alberta's tar sands to a port in British Columbia for transport to lucrative Asian markets. But the British Columbia government complains it would have to bear the brunt of any oil spill while receiving too little of the revenue.

"If Alberta doesn't decide they want to sit down and engage, the project stops. It's as simple as that," British Columbia Premier Christy Clark told the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

"So the ball is in Alberta's court today to decide whether or not they want to sit down," she said in her toughest comments yet on the affair. Her remarks were posted on the paper's website.

It is unclear whether any province actually has the legal power to halt interprovincial pipelines, which fall under federal jurisdiction. Northern Gateway is currently the subject of public hearings by Canada's federal energy regulator.

The British Columbia government said on Monday the province would play a crucial role in getting the pipeline built as "scores of provincial permits" will be necessary.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford has already made clear that any negotiations on money are out of the question. The two women are due to meet in the Atlantic city of Halifax on Wednesday at a previously scheduled meeting of Canada's premiers.

British Columbia laid out five conditions on Monday -- including more revenue -- it said must be met before it would allow the pipeline to proceed.

Clark's comments are the latest blow to Northern Gateway, which is already facing major resistance from green groups and some aboriginal bands, which also claim they have the power to stop the pipeline.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)