VICTORIA -While NGP has not yet demonstrated how they will meet the five key requirements BC has established for any heavy oil pipeline project, the Joint Review Panel's (JRP) release of 199 potential conditions will assist the Province in preparing final arguments at the JRP hearings.
B.C.'s lawyers and technical experts are now analyzing the 199 conditions against the concerns identified through cross-examination of NGP representatives at the JRP hearings, the backdrop of provincial regulations and the Province's five conditions for support of heavy oil pipelines.
Preparing and releasing a list of potential conditions is standard practice by the National Energy Board for hearings of this type, and, at this time, does not imply a project approval recommendation by the Joint Review Panel.
In addition, the Province is continuing to work on a world-leading marine spill plan with phase one of a contract with Nuka Research now completed.
Nuka has provided the ministry with a comprehensive report that provides a good baseline inventory of the province's current spill response regime. The comprehensive report included the following three studies:
- An initial assessment of the existing spill prevention and response regime in place for B.C.
- A methodology for conducting a vessel traffic study assessing the current and potential levels of shipping on the west coast of Canada, focusing on oil-carrying vessels.
- A preliminary analysis to identify international best practices for marine oil spill prevention and response, based on a high-level review of other systems.
Nuka is now moving on to Phase Two; a vessel traffic study, an in-depth analysis to identify international best practices for marine oil spill prevention and response, and a gap analysis comparing the current state of preparedness in B.C. with methods studied in jurisdictions in Canada, the United States and Europe. Phase Two of the contract is estimated to be completed in June.
This work supports the second of government's five minimum requirements for new heavy oil pipelines in B.C. - world-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.'s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments.
Those five conditions are:
- First, the project must successfully complete an environmental assessment review. In the case of the Northern Gateway project, that means a recommendation by the Joint Review Panel that the project proceed.
- In addition, a project must have world-leading marine and land oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems to protect BC's environment, including our coastline and ocean.
- A fourth requirement is to see First Nations given appropriate opportunities to participate in any heavy oil pipeline proposal. This is a reflection of our commitment to economic development in partnership with First Nations.
- And finally, British Columbia must receive a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project. A fair share is one that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by our environment and our taxpayers.
Nuka is an Alaska-based research and planning group contracted by the Province to help define a world-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery system for British Columbia.
Ministry of Environment