No gas pipeline conversion to oil, B.C. vows

Energy East proposal to switch pipelines has NDP worried about an "end run" for an oil project such as Enbridge Northern Gateway

Doug Donaldson

The B.C. government has adopted a regulation to prevent natural gas pipelines from being converted to carry oil to the North Coast.

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman announced the regulation Tuesday, covering six pipelines proposed to link to liquefied natural gas export facilities in the Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Squamish areas. He said other pipelines could be added if necessary.

The move comes after the Energy East proposal to switch a gas pipeline to carry oil from Alberta to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Chief Barry Nikal of the Moricetown Indian Band endorsed the new regulation, but other aboriginal leaders and the NDP aren’t satisfied with a cabinet order that could be quickly changed.

Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson says Coleman first promised legislation to prevent oil sands crude from being carried in pipelines built for gas at a public meeting in Moricetown in April 2014. In November, Donaldson presented his own private member’s bill to have the legislature endorse the move, after Coleman said he would use regulation instead.

“We do not want to see this used as an end run by Enbridge Northern Gateway to be using any proposed natural gas pipelines to transmit diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to the North Coast,” Donaldson said.

He was supported by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief John Ridsdale, who visited the B.C. legislature before joining anti-oil pipeline protesters on Burnaby Mountain.

“The proposed routes are actually all in our major spawning beds,” Ridsdale said. “And you’ve got to realize that the water that comes from Wet’suwet’en territory also goes to the Fraser River and to the Skeena River. So what we’re doing is protecting everything on behalf of British Columbians.”

Ridsdale is the highest ranking member of the Tsayu Clan, one of five clans and 38 house territories of the Wet’suwet’en. The Tsayu have rejected both oil and gas pipelines crossing their territory, and another house, the Unist’ot’en, has built a settlement with the help of outside environmentalists in an effort to block any pipeline development.

The regulation prevents the “automatic conversion” of pipelines, Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad said in a statement. It covers the following proposed projects:

• Coastal GasLink, to supply the Shell-led LNG Canada project at Bish Cove near Kitimat

• Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project, to supply PETRONAS-led Pacific Northwest LNG at Lelu Island

• Pacific Trail Pipelines Project, to supply Chevron-led Kitimat LNG

• Pacific Northern Gas Looping Project, to supply Douglas Channel LNG, a Texas private proposal for Kitimat

• Eagle Mountain Woodfibre Gas Project, an expansion of an existing gas line to a former pulp mill site near Squamish

• West Coast Connector, to supply Prince Rupert LNG, led by BG Group, which has delayed its decision to proceed


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