Environmentalists Non-Government Organizations on
Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project
Enbridge is Canada’s largest natural gas distribution company. Founded 61 years ago, it is the single largest transporter of crude oil and petroleum products in North America. On May 27, 2010, Enbridge submitted a regulatory application for a $5.5 billion project named Northern Gateway Project (NGP). This pipeline project consists of a twin pipeline system transporting petroleum and condensate from Bruderheim, Alberta, near Edmonton, to the marine terminals in Kitimat, British Columbia. Crude oil or petroleum is used to make gasoline, lubricants for machinery, asphalt, plastics, and many others everyday necessities. Condensate is a chemical and petroleum mixture used to dilute tar sands crude oil for easier pipeline transport. The eastbound pipeline is projected to be 36” in diameter and 1,177km in length, and will deliver 525,000 barrels of oil per day from Bruderheim to Kitimat. The westbound pipeline, the same length as the eastbound pipeline, is to be 20” in diameter, and it will transport 193,000 barrels of condensate per day from Kitimat to Bruderheim (Enbridge, 2011b). This project is currently undergoing a comprehensive and rigorous regulatory review to weigh the stakeholders’ interest regarding the adverse effects on the environment. By the end of 2013, the Joint Review Panel (JRP) will determine whether or not to permit Enbridge to carry out the project.
Key Stakeholders & Their Positions on NGP
The NGP has a diversified group of stakeholders. Amongst them, some of the major players are - in no specific order and not limited to - Enbridge, China(Sinopec), the Canadian government, Aboriginals, and environmental advocates.
Enbridge, the project proponent, want to see it happen. It claims that the pipeline will strengthen the nation’s position as a global energy producer, build global alliances, and facilitate further investment in Canada. It points out that the thousands of jobs created by the project are also favourable. No doubt that the pipelines will make Enbridge a frontier in the oil industry, creating immense amounts of profit for its shareholders.
Sinopec, one of the big Chinese backers of the project, is in partnership with Enbridge, along with other Chinese companies supporting the pipelines. They already own oil sands resources in Canada and have invested roughly $20 billion in the oil sands (Grigg, 2012). The Chinese are extremely interested in the project because of high energy demands in China: the estimated potential demand for oil is at 820,000 barrels per day in northern China (Grigg, 2012), making the country the biggest buyer of the exported fuel.
Exporting petroleum to Asian countries such as China is what Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants. The fact that the pipelines will increase the GDP by $270 billion in the next 30 years (Beatty, 2011) is too appealing to the government to reject. Because of the numerous environmental issues, however, not all parties of the parliament agree with Harper. Adrian Dix, the leader of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia (BC NDP), has promised to withdraw the deal if he is elected in the upcoming British Columbia provincial election (Fowlie, 2012). Christy Clark, the current premier of British Columbia, with Environment Minister Terry Lake, have announced that B.C. will consider the NGP only if it meets five conditions they outlined, which are (Fortems, 2012): 1. Completing the environmental review process. In the case of Enbridge, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed. 2. Deploying world-leading marine oil-spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.'s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments. 3. Using world-leading practices...