Trudeau Sets November Deadline for Enbridge Pipeline Decision

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has given itself a two-month window to decide on Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway oil pipeline after declining to appeal a legal ruling that revoked its construction permits.

A cabinet order, dated Sept. 23, enacted Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr’s recommendation to set the Nov. 25 deadline for a decision on how to proceed with Gateway. Trudeau also has to decide on Enbridge’s Line 3 project on or before that same day.

The two Enbridge projects are among the raft of energy decisions Trudeau will make this fall -- including this week’s approval of Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas project. Trudeau must also decide on Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by Dec. 19.

“Given the complexity of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines project, this extension provides the Government with additional time to consider next steps in response to the Federal Court of Appeal decision,” Alexandre Deslongchamps, a spokesman for Carr, said in a written statement Thursday. The government continues to “work to restore public confidence” in Canada’s environmental and regulatory system, he added.

Trudeau is said to have decided to approve at least one new oil pipeline in his first term, with Kinder Morgan considered the favorite.

Duty to Consult

Northern Gateway, an estimated C$7.9 billion ($6 billion) project approved by a previous government, had its permits invalidated by a court ruling earlier this year that found the government didn’t fulfill its duty to fully consult indigenous people.

The government said on Sept. 20 it wouldn’t appeal that ruling, and now must decide whether to re-do the consultation and, then, reissue the permits. Enbridge also declined to appeal and called on the government to work on a “renewed consultation process.”

Trudeau previously had flatly opposed Northern Gateway -- a 1,177-kilometer (730-mile) project that would carry oil to the northwest coast of British Columbia -- but has since softened his position. He now says he doesn’t support the current route and has also pledged a moratorium on oil tanker traffic in the region.

The 1,660 kilometer Line 3 replacement pipeline, estimated at C$7.5 billion, would carry up to 760,000 barrels of crude per day from Alberta to Wisconsin.

To contact the reporters on this story: Josh Wingrove in Ottawa at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net ;Greg Quinn in Ottawa at gquinn1@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Theophilos Argitis at targitis@bloomberg.net Stephen Wicary, Chris Fournier

Copyright 2016 Bloomberg News.

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