Conservative loss wouldn't kill pipeline: Enbridge

Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:32pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc's C$5.5 billion ($5.7 billion) oil pipeline to Canada's West Coast from Alberta would likely not be killed off if the Conservatives lose the upcoming election, as its economic importance is too great, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel said he believes the Northern Gateway project is key to helping the country expand its energy markets beyond the United States. The message comes amid fears that opposition parties, if elected, would block increased coastal tanker traffic and scupper the proposal.

"I think that this project is so important to security from a movement of crude oil perspective that it won't matter which party's in power," he told reporters after a speech in Toronto. "I think it's too important for Canada."

The pipeline would move 525,000 barrels a day of crude derived from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat, British Columbia, where it could be loaded on to tankers bound for markets in Asia and along the U.S. West Coast.

It already faces opposition from several native groups as well as environmentalists.

Daniel pointed out his company, which moves most of Canada's oil exports to the United States, has letters of support from the premiers of British Columbia and Alberta.

In December, the federal Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois all voted in favor of a motion calling for a ban on oil tankers in waters off the coast of northwestern British Columbia.

Although the motion was not binding on the minority Conservative government, its backers said at the time it was designed to demonstrate the amount of political opposition to increased tanker traffic along the Pacific Coast.   Continued...