OTTAWA – Enbridge is getting a $14.7-million refund on fees it paid Canada’s federal energy regulator for a pipeline it won’t build.
The Northern Gateway pipeline was supposed to connect Alberta’s oilpatch to a port in Kitimat, B.C., but the plan started to came apart when the federal Liberals banned tankers carrying large amounts of crude oil from British Columbia’s northern coast.
Without tankers to serve the port, there would be no point constructing more than 1,100 kilometres of pipeline to send Alberta bitumen to Kitimat.
Then the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in June 2016 that when the federal government approved the pipeline, it hadn’t adequately consulted Indigenous Peoples the pipeline would affect. A few months later, in late November, the Liberals decided to revoke the approvals given to let the project get as far as it had.
Enbridge had paid the National Energy Board $14.7 million in regulatory fees to monitor the pipeline’s construction and operation. That was about 0.2 per cent of the estimated $7.9-billion cost of building it.
In February, the energy company asked for a refund. Just before Christmas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet agreed, saying in a formal decision that “it is just and reasonable to remit the funds.”
“In this case, (the Northern Gateway Pipeline) did not begin construction and the project will never move into operation,” the decision says.
The refund will be paid out of the government’s general account. Enbridge says it is still out $373 million in lost costs for the cancelled project. Spokeswoman Tracie Kenyon said Thursday the company has no other outstanding claims for reimbursements or refunds.
The bill banning crude oil tankers from northern B.C. has passed the House of Commons and is in the Senate.
Tankers carrying other fuels are allowed on B.C.’s north coast, and a $40-billion project for a pipeline feeding a liquefied-natural-gas terminal in Kitimat is going ahead.
Crude-oil tankers are also allowed along the province’s southern coast, including in the sea off Vancouver.