FIN IN THE NEWS: No promise is worth the risk

Canadian bill would ban tankers from key British Columbia waterways

Houston (Platts)--26Mar2010/1239 pm EDT/1639 GMT

Legislation to be introduced Friday into the Canadian Parliament would ban oil tankers in three British Columbia waterways upon which Enbridge is dependent for moving crude from Alberta's oil sands region to Asia and the USWest Coast.

The bill, to be introduced by Member of Parliament Fin Donnelly, who represents a Vancouver-area district, would ban tankers from the Dixon Entrance, Hectate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, according to a statement from his office. The waterways connect the port of Kitimat, to where Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline would bring crude from Alberta, to the Pacific Ocean. While a moratorium on tanker traffic in the region, including the three waterways, has been in place for more than 35 years, the bill would make a ban legally binding, Donnelly said in the statement.

The Northern Gateway project involves a twin pipeline system. In addition to exporting crude, the 727-mile system would bring condensate to the oil sands region. Donnelly, who serves as the New Democrat Party's fisheries and oceans critic, and First Nations Aboriginal groups, among other community activists, say the pipeline would bring 225 oil tankers annually through the waterways to move oil to Asia and the US.

Donnelly cites the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Price William Sound, Alaska, as reason for the concern of oil tankers entering the waterways to access the new Kitimat marine terminal. A representative for Calgary-based Enbridge was not immediately available for comment Friday.

However, the company's web site dedicated to the Northern Gateway projectstates that "Enbridge is committed to ensuring that vessels" carrying oil from the pipeline in Kitimat "will be operated to the highest internationally recognized safety and environmental standards."

Enbridge said last week that it plans to file its regulatory applicationfor the pipeline with Canada's National Energy Board at the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter of this year.

--Lucretia Cardenas, lucretia_cardenas@platts.com