Canada minister slams Enbridge, casts doubt on pipeline plan

Fri Aug 3, 2012 2:47pm EDT
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A top Canadian cabinet minister has blasted Enbridge Inc's environmental record, casting more doubt on whether the company will be able to build a controversial pipeline from Alberta's oil sands to the Pacific Coast.

Heritage Minister James Moore's comments - the first attack by any top Canadian government official on Enbridge - also reveal that a rare split has opened up inside the cabinet over the proposed C$6 billion ($6 billion) Northern Gateway project, which the Conservative government backs strongly.

Moore is the senior political minister for British Columbia, the province where the pipeline would end. His remarks come at a bad time for Enbridge, which is under heavy pressure in the United States over leaks from its existing network there.

The 1,177 km (731 mile) Northern Gateway would take 525,000 barrels a day of crude from the Alberta tar sands across the Rocky Mountains to Kitimat on the British Columbia coast for export to China and other energy-hungry Asian nations.

"This project will not survive public scrutiny unless Enbridge takes far more seriously their obligation to engage the public and to answer those very legitimate questions about the way in which they've operated their business in the very recent past," Moore told a Vancouver radio station on Wednesday.

The provincial Liberal government in British Columbia - trailing the anti-Gateway main opposition party ahead of an election next year - toughened its tone last month and vowed to block the pipeline unless Alberta handed over more royalties.

Moore compared Enbridge's record with that of Kinder Morgan, which he said had made all the right moves as it went ahead with plans to more than double the capacity of its Trans Mountain Line, which also runs from Alberta to British Columbia.

"There's a difference, I think, night and day between (Kinder Morgan) ... and Enbridge, which I think their track record is not one that I think any other company should follow if they want to do business in British Columbia," he said.   Continued...

 
Canada's Heritage Minister James Moore speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 13, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie