Enbridge won't offer natives better terms

Thu Feb 9, 2012 1:51am EST
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By David Ljunggren

BEIJING (Reuters) - Canada's Enbridge Inc will not offer better financial terms to aboriginal bands standing in the way of a major oil pipeline from energy-rich Alberta to the Pacific Coast, the firm's chief executive officer said on Thursday.

Pat Daniel also told Reuters that while he was prepared to look at alternate routes for the Northern Gateway pipeline -- which is crucial to Canadian plans to export oil to China -- he felt the current routing plan was the best.

The C$5.5 billion ($5.4 billion) Northern Gateway would run 1,177 km (731 miles) from oil-rich Alberta across the Rocky Mountains to Kitimat on British Columbia's Pacific Coast. At Kitimat, the oil would be loaded on supertankers and shipped to the Pacific.

Canada's Conservative government strongly backs the pipeline, which it says would help diversify exports away from the dominant U.S. market. But greens and some aboriginal bands oppose the pipeline on the grounds that a spill either on land or at sea would be disastrous.

Enbridge says it will give aboriginal bands 10 percent of equity in the project and C$1 billion of community development money in exchange for support. It says this would help provide much-needed jobs in often remote and impoverished communities.

The firm was embarrassed last month when its sole public deal with a native group along the route of the proposed pipeline collapsed. The failure prompted some industry observers to predict Enbridge might have to sweeten its offer.

"We think the financial package we're offering is very, very strong, so we don't have any intent (or) consideration on changing that," Daniel told Reuters in a 25-minute interview during a business trip to Beijing.

As part of a regulatory process, Enbridge needs to consult with a total of 45 native communities along the proposed route. Daniels said he hoped to have the support of two-thirds of the bands by the middle of 2012.   Continued...