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NEWS: Proposed Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline ‘fully booked’

The Calgary Herald reports, “Space has been fully booked on the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline to the West Coast, potentially linking Alberta oilsands producers to energy-hungry Asian markets, said operator Enbridge Inc. …Asian demand is seen as a major driver pulling up crude oil markets, along with other emerging economies. Indeed, China’s national oil company Sinopec confirmed last year it was one of 10 partners shelling out a total of $250 million toward the pipeline. …Enbridge did not reveal shippers’ names in its latest regulatory filing with the National Energy Board citing commercial sensitivity.”

The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would transport 525,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen a day through a 1,700 kilometre pipeline across hundreds of rivers and streams to Kitimat, British Columbia, where much of it would be taken by 225 super tankers a year through the narrow Douglas Channel and then across the Pacific Ocean to Asian markets. “A smaller line would pipe back up to 192,000 bpd condensate used to thin heavy oil for transportation on a smaller line.”

“Aboriginal communities along the proposed 1,700-kilometre line stretching from near Edmonton to a marine terminal in Kitimat, B.C. argued they have not signed on to a project which could threaten their way of life. …Chief Larry Nooski of Nedleh Whut’en First Nation…is part of the Yinka Dene Alliance of five First Nations in northern B.C. which have banned the pipeline from their territories over concerns about possible oil leaks on land, waterways and the ocean.” The Saik’uz, Haida, Hasla, Gitga and other First Nations have stated that ‘oil tankers carrying crude oil from the Alberta tar sands will not be allowed to transit’ their lands or waters.

This past June, NDP Fisheries and Oceans critic Fin Donnelly introduced C-211, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (prohibition against oil tankers in Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound), into the House of Commons. If passed, the bill would effectively kill the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The National Energy Board review of the Northern Gateway pipeline will include public hearings in January and June 2012, with a decision expected sometime in early 2013. If approved, the pipeline is expected to be in operation by 2015.

The Council of Canadians has been actively opposing the building of the Northern Gateway pipeline. This past May, Prairies organizer Scott Harris attended a protest against the pipeline at the Enbridge annual general meeting in Calgary, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9035. For the past two summers, BC-Yukon organizer Harjap Grewal has participated in the Wet’suwet’en action camp against the pipeline, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=3956. In September 2010, Grewal and Board members Pina Belperio and Garry John demonstrated in front of the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside where Enbridge were hosting a cocktail reception during the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual general meeting, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4134.