The proposed Mackenzie Gas Project cleared another major hurdle last week after receiving the final go-ahead from both the federal cabinet and the National Energy Board.
“Having received approval from the federal cabinet the National Energy Board has issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the 1,196-kilometre long Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, part of the Mackenzie Gas Project,” the NEB said in a March 10 press release.
Northwest Territories Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment Bob McLeod said the approval moved the $16.2 billion project one step closer to reality.
“I think this is another great day for the Northwest Territories,” McLeod said in the legislative assembly on March 10. “The next big step is to get the two parties, the federal government and the pipeline proponents, together to negotiate and finalize a fiscal framework.”
McLeod said the proponents, which include Imperial Oil, the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, Exxon Mobil Canada, Shell Canada Limited, and ConocoPhillips Canada, have asked the federal government for a fiscal framework that includes loan guarantees, and not subsidies.
APG Chair Fred Carmichael said last week’s announcement was a “big step forward” for the project.
“We’re certainly happy and excited about that,” he said Monday. “It’s good for the north and good for Canada.”
Imperial Oil spokesperson Pius Rolheiser said the decision marks the final major regulatory approval for necessary for the project to proceed.
“This is the conclusion of the formal regulatory process,” he said. “It is a significant milestone for the project.”
Carmichael said it’s still too early to say when the discussions between the proponents and federal government will resume.
“We’ve all been preparing for this, trying to make sure as soon as we had a favourable decision we’d move forward in those discussions,” he said. “The project will be trying to reengage with the government just as soon as possible.”
Rolheiser said a tremendous amount of work remains before the proponents make a final decision on whether to proceed with the pipeline, including finalizing a fiscal framework with the federal government, securing the nearly 6,000 permits required for the project, restaffing the project team, and resuming engineering work.
“All of that work will take place between now and the end of 2013,” he said.
According to government estimates, the “basin opening” project will contribute$67.5 billion to the NWT economy and a further $86 billion to the Canadian economy.