The clock is ticking on proposed pipeline projects: Enbridge CEO
Al Monaco says other nations could beat Canadian producers in the race to supply growing Asian oil market
Enbridge president and CEO Al Monaco told an Edmonton business crowd today that “the clock is ticking” on the company’s proposed pipeline projects, including the Northern Gateway.
Without access to Asian markets, he said, western Canadian oil producers would continue to accept less than world-market prices for their crude at North America’s refineries. Canadian crude currently trades at a $20-per-barrel price discount to West Texas Intermediate benchmark.
Asked whether or not there was a critical timeline for approvals on the Northern Gateway project, Monaco said, “I’m not going to put a deadline on that but it is pretty obvious that if you have this kind of price discount, the faster you can get new infrastructure – subject to community support – the better.”
Monaco also voiced his concern when Alberta Oil asked whether other oil-producing nations – like Kazakhstan and Russia – could beat Canadian oil producers to market in Asia. “Of course it’s a concern, but you have to look at the advantages of the resources that we have here,” he said. “There’s a substantial amount of resources and we know that they’re there and we have a huge strategic advantage in that we’re so proximate to the West Coast which can access such a large market, so I think we just need to move that along.”
And with access to the West Coast, Monaco did say that if Enbridge could do it again, the company would have put more effort into community consultations on Northern Gateway earlier. First Nations and environmental groups in British Columbia have fiercely opposed the project since it was announced. Monaco admitted Enbridge didn’t initially do enough to gain the trust of the communities in northern B.C.
“I can’t stand up here today and say, ‘Boy, we did everything right.’ If we could have done something differently, we probably would have been on the ground sooner and done some of the community engagement.”
Enbridge’s Northern Gateway critics were emboldened by a series of pipeline ruptures and a scathing report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board which likened the company’s handling of an oil spill in Michigan to the Keystone Kops.
“We probably would have started earlier at the community level and done a lot more ground work in terms of building the communities’ trust,” Monaco said. “I think this is very important with communities.”