Encana's Deep Panuke Project Could Face Regulatory Delays

Regulatory review and engineering continues on Deep Panuke gas project. The National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) are proceeding with a full review of EnCana's development plan for the Deep Panuke natural gas project, located on the Scotian Shelf offshore Nova Scotia. Recent plans by both regulatory boards to hold a single hearing for review are encouraging. The regulatory hearing for Deep Panuke is expected to start in the first quarter of 2003, with a decision anticipated by mid 2003. EnCana had been working towards a 2005 target start date for the project. However, given a longer than anticipated Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) comprehensive study report (CSR) process, it is unlikely that the project will be operational by that time. The CSR has been filed with the federal minister of the environment and EnCana is awaiting a firm date for the hearing. The company is also examining newly acquired seismic and related exploration opportunities in the vicinity of Deep Panuke that could enhance project economics. EnCana continues to promote timely regulatory approvals that balance the needs of the company, the public and the regulators. Once the NEB and CNSOPB have ruled on the Deep Panuke application, EnCana will review the regulatory decisions, including all conditions for approval, and make a decision on project sanction.