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A south-to-north Alberta to NWT tar sands pipeline by 2020?

Arctic Gateway

A proposed south-to-north ‘Arctic Gateway’ pipeline is in the news again.

In October, we noted, “Northwest Territories premier Bob McLeod is in Washington, DC promoting a proposed 100,000 barrel-per-day ‘Arctic Gateway’ pipeline, a 2,400 kilometres long pipeline from the tar sands of northern Alberta through the Mackenzie Valley to the port of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean.”

The Canadian Press reported at that time, “[Premier McLeod] explained … that there could be initial shipments by summer 2015. An existing rail line would carry oil to Hay River, and then an existing barge system would ship it to Tuktoyaktuk, to be loaded onto tankers on the Beaufort Sea and shipped anywhere in the world. …The second and third phases, he said, would include additional infrastructure, the reversal of an old pipeline, and finally, within five years, the construction of a brand new pipeline from Fort McMurray to Tuktoyaktuk that could export oil all year round.”

Today, the Globe and Mail reports, “A south-to-north oil corridor along the Mackenzie Valley is a goal, along with future drilling in the Beaufort Sea, which could also make use of export infrastructure, said David Ramsay, the territory’s minister of industry, tourism and investment. …As an initial step in an Arctic export plan, bitumen from the oil sands could travel by rail to Hay River, then by barge to the northern coast at Tuktoyaktuk, according to the Canatec study. But a pipeline is the preferred long-term option, Mr. Ramsay said.”

The article adds, “Imperial and Chevron Corp. are planning to drill in deep water acreage in the Beaufort Sea, although timing depends on rulings by the National Energy Board on the issue of accepted alternatives to same-season relief wells. The companies have said allowing technology in place of that current regulation is necessary to moving forward, and even then it is an end-of-decade proposition. That moves an oil pipeline up on the agenda, and the territory has been discussing it with both Alberta and Alaska, Mr. Ramsay said.”

“Alberta is actively pursuing the ‘Arctic Gateway’ idea, said Derek Cummings, spokesman for Frank Oberle, the province’s energy minister. Jay Hill, the [Alberta] government’s senior representative for Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the North … has [also] been in talks with the governments of both the Northwest Territories and Yukon about the concept, he said. The government of Alberta is also sponsoring a prefeasibility study by the Van Horne Institute for a railway between Fort McMurray, Alta., and Valdez to ship oil and other goods.”

The Northwest Territories’ minister of industry says, “We’re hoping to see the concept expanded upon and moved forward here soon.”