British Columbia premier uncertain about pipeline, LNG projects

B.C. Premier Christy Clark speaks to media following the speech from the throne in Victoria on Tuesday, February 11, 2014

(Reuters) – It is impossible to say whether the Northern Gateway oil pipeline or liquefied natural gas projects will go ahead in the near future, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said on Monday.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Clark said when asked if Northern Gateway, an Enbridge Inc project to take oil from Alberta to British Columbia’s Pacific Coast and on to Asian markets, would proceed any time in the near future.

“It’s hard for me to predict the outcome.”

Canada’s regulators recommended on Dec. 19 that the federal government approve the C$7.9 billion ($7.2 billion) project, and Ottawa expects to make its decision by mid-June but it is expected to face legal challenges after that.

The pipeline is fiercely opposed by environmentalists who fear the risk of a spill and the potential for the pipeline to speed the development of Alberta’s oil sands. Many of the aboriginal groups, known as First Nations, who live near the proposed route are also fighting to block it.

Clark noted former federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice, hired by Enbridge to smooth over relations with aboriginal communities, has a good track record.

Separately, she said she hoped some liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects get the corporate go-ahead soon but noted: “These are private-sector decisions and we don’t control them. They are looking at their investment all around the world, from British Columbia to Mozambique to Australia to Qatar…”

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