Energy Ink

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

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January 30, 2013

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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.”

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4 Responses to “The clock is ticking on proposed pipeline projects: Enbridge CEO”

  1. Kelly says:

    Clock may be ticking but if they want approval, then they need to commit to a truely world class pipeline meeting world class standards of safety. They keep saying they will exceed the reduced standards in Canada, but there are much higher standards in the US and elsewhere. World class means the highest standard not the standards Harper reduced so they could meet them.
    It also means stepping up to the plate rather than minimizing your liability with a limited partnership. It means carrying enough insurance to cover the worst case scenario. It means committing to shipping upgraded rather than raw bitumen. I could go on but Northern Gateway is not meeting the standards others in the world demand so let the clock tick.

  2. Candace says:

    I am one who is opposed to the project, and I’d like to fill Albertans in concerning why I feel the way I do. I am not against pipelines. Nor am I against oil. I am against a project which promises to send 388 mega-tankers a year through the narrow, dangerous Hecate Straights, while another more reasonable port exists right above their route.
    In an effort to save money and time, Enbridge has decided to send these massive tankers through a narrow inlet famous for it’s 140 knot wind storms and sunken Islands. A double hulled tanker will not make any difference in hurricane winds. Tug-boats will not save a tanker from massive waves in a narrow channel.
    If a spill happens, the oil will spread as far a Bella Coola and wipe out the West Coast Fish supply. This includes Halibut, snapper, crab, cod and salmon (to name a few).
    Meanwhile the well used and well maintained Prince Rupert port sits right above Kitimat, already supports major traffic and goes right out into the open ocean.
    Their insistence towards the idea of using the Kitimat port, while purposely confusing and misdirecting the public about our concerns, is conducive to the disrespect they have for our land and people, not just in BC…but all of Canada. The powers that be are clearly stacking the deck in their favor in this new era of oil. Are we just going to sit by and let them?

    • appaulled says:

      Shipping through Prince Rupert also means those tankers will pass through the Hecate Straits as well as be exposed to the high seas and wind conditions as going to Kitimat. The only difference is that Kitimat has to be accessed through the Douglas Channel which is even more treacherous than the Hecate straits. there is a reason why the waters in the Prince Rupert have a moratorium against drilling and large tankers.

  3. Monst Er says:

    I’m afraid the opposition to Northern Gateway is already very well aware of the limited window of economic viability for this project however, they also know what Enbridge CEO Al Monaco is not saying.

    The greater challenge to the price of Alberta oil is the dwindling value global markets place on the world’s most environmentally expensive energy products.

    Coastal communities and first nations, along with a healthy block of British Columbia’s urban population already strongly oppose this project and they will drag out the process to ensure maximum exposure to this value loss.