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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada's National Energy Board said on Wednesday it will start hearing final arguments on the C$16.2 billion ($15.7 billion) Mackenzie gas pipeline on April 12, more than four years after it began the regulatory process for the massive project.
The schedule comes a week after the Joint Review Panel, which assessed the Northwest Territories project's socioeconomic and environmental impact, gave conditional support to it.
The NEB said it will co-ordinate formal reaction to the panel's report and its 176 recommendations before it begins hearing final arguments.
The hearing process will run for as many as five days in Yellowknife, N.W.T., starting April 12, then move to Inuvik, N.W.T., on April 20 for up to another four days, it said.
Once that is complete, the NEB will deliberate and prepare its decision, it said.
The Mackenzie Gas Project's partners are Imperial Oil Ltd, ConocoPhillips,, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group.
The pipeline, first envisioned in the 1970s and now facing surging costs and political uncertainty, would extend 1,220 km (760 miles) to southern markets from the Mackenzie Delta on the Beaufort Sea coast.
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson