Mackenzie Gas Pipeline Plan Clears Hurdle

HOUSTON (Dow Jones)

A Canadian panel assessing the socioeconomic and environmental impact of a proposed C$16.2 billion natural gas pipeline in northern Canada conditionally recommended approval of the project Wednesday.

The opinion of the joint federal and provincial panel, which comes after more than two years of deliberations, is crucial to a decision by the country's National Energy Board as to whether the 1,200-kilometer pipeline project can go ahead. The pipeline is expected to carry up to 1.9 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas from the Mackenzie Delta in the Canadian Arctic to southern markets in Canada and the U.S.

"The panel is confident that the project as filed, if built and operated with full implementation of the panel's recommendations, would deliver valuable and lasting overall benefits, and avoid significant adverse environmental impacts...," the panel said in a press release.

The Mackenzie Gas project is led by Imperial Oil Ltd. (IMO, IMO.T). Imperial's partners in the project are parent company ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM), Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA.LN, RDSA, RDSB.LN, RDSB), ConocoPhillips (COP) and TransCanada Corp. (TRP) on behalf of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group.

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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