Canadian Arctic gas pipeline report due Wednesday

Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:58pm EST
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The panel assessing the socioeconomic and environmental impact of a C$16.2 billion ($15.6 billion) gas pipeline in northern Canada will issue its long-awaited report on Wednesday, a day earlier than expected, the Northern Gas Project Secretariat said.

The Joint Review Panel has been preparing its findings and recommendations on the proposed 1,220 km (760 mile) Mackenzie Pipeline since public hearings into the project wrapped up more than two years ago.

The National Energy Board will incorporate the JRP report into its own decision on whether the project, led by Imperial Oil Ltd, can go ahead. That decision is expected by September 2010.

The line, first envisioned in the 1970s, would ship up to 1.9 billion cubic feet of gas a day to southern markets from gas fields in the Mackenzie Delta region near the Beaufort Sea coast.

Imperial Oil's partners are Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group.

The project, seen as a driver of economic growth in Canada's North, has been beset by regulatory delays, rising costs and new competition from shale gas plays located much closer to major U.S. markets.

($1=$1.04 Canadian)

(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)