Canada Regulators Support NOVA's Edson Pipeline Expansion

By Jeff Awalt, Executive Editor

(P&GJ) —The Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) has recommended federal cabinet approval of NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd.'s (NGTL) Edson Mainline Expansion Project, which includes the construction and operation of 53-mile (85 km) of natural gas pipeline loops in two sections, along with the associated facilities.

A pipeline welder works on an earlier extension of the NGTL System in Northern Alberta, Canada. (photo: TC Energy)

NGTL is Calgary-based TC Energy's natural gas gathering and transportation system for the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB), connecting most of the natural gas production in western Canada to domestic and export markets. It says the Edson Mainline Expansion Project is needed to increase pipeline capacity and move gas from the Peace River Project Area to growing markets in central and southern Alberta.

"Commissioners heard from more than a dozen intervenors, including industry, federal and provincial government departments and Indigenous peoples," CER said in an announcement. "After considering the evidence and submissions presented by all parties, including Indigenous knowledge, the Commission found that the project is in the Canadian public interest."

Indigenous peoples raised various concerns during the hearing about potential impacts on their rights and interests. The Commission, as part of its response to these concerns, recommended a number of conditions, including requiring a construction monitoring plan for the participation of Indigenous monitors during and post construction.

"The Commission is of the view that, within this Project area, any potential Project impacts on the rights and interests of affected Indigenous peoples are not likely to be significant with the implementation of the mitigation measures and commitments made by NGTL, as well as the conditions and accommodations recommended and imposed by the Commission," CER said in a press release announcing its decision.

About 45 miles (73 km), or 86%, of the pipeline route will parallel the existing NGTL right of way and other existing and proposed disturbances. The Commission noted that NGTL considered input from landowners, occupants, land users, Indigenous peoples and environmental studies in deciding the proposed route.

If federal Cabinet approves this project, the CER will monitor and enforce compliance with all conditions using audits, inspections and other compliance and enforcement tools.

The 15,266-mile (24,568-km) NGTL System currently has a $9.9 billion infrastructure program underway to add 3.5 Bcf/d of incremental delivery capacity between 2020 to 2024, according to TC Energy. This additional capacity will help meet growing need for natural gas in North American and global markets, including the potential to supply LNG export facilities in Canada.

"We believe we are very well positioned to connect growing supply in northeast B.C. and northwest Alberta," TC Energy said.

"It is these two supply areas, along with growing demand for firm transportation in the oil sands area and to our major export points at Empress and Alberta/B.C. delivery locations, that is driving our large capital program for new pipeline facilities," it said.  "The NGTL System is also well-positioned to connect WCSB supply to potential LNG export facilities on the Canadian west coast."

At a Glance

  • The estimated capital cost of the Project is $509 million. The Project is estimated to contribute a total of $370 million to provincial gross domestic product. In Alberta that contribution is estimated to be $285 million, with the remaining $85 million going to other provinces and territories. The Project is expected to contribute $175 million of labour income in Alberta.

  • Project construction is estimated to generate tax revenues of $6.3 million federally, $8.8 million provincially and $7.1 million at the municipal level. During operations, the Project is estimated to contribute approximately $740,000 per year in property taxes to Clearwater County and Yellowhead County.

  • The Project would cross 141 parcels of land, including four private (freehold) quarter sections along the Alford Creek Section, and 137 parcels of provincial Crown land.

  • As this application was filed on 3 April 2019, it was considered by the Commission under the National Energy Board Act.

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