TORONTO (AP) — The chief executive of Enbridge said Friday the company is re-examining its options for the route of a proposed pipeline to the Pacific Coast that would allow Canadian oil to be shipped to Asia.
Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel said the company wants to determine whether there is a route to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, that avoids running the pipeline parallel to a river.
Daniel said the current proposed route to Kitimat, British Columbia, remains the best option but that the company wants to further evaluate alternatives.
The project is undergoing an environmental review. There is fierce environmental and aboriginal opposition in Kitimat, where there are fears of a tanker spill in the narrower passages of the Douglas Channel.
Daniel said the company did extensive routing studies before it settled on a terminus at Kitimat.
"The main reason why we preferred Kitimat versus (Prince) Rupert was the requirement to run parallel to the Skeena River for about 50 miles (80 kilometers) going into Rupert on what would be a very narrow right of way space," Daniel said on a conference call after Enbridge released its earnings.
"We will re-examine that to see whether there is another way to get to Prince Rupert, but all of our engineering and environmental studies continue to point in the direction of Kitimat being the best alternative."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is determined to get the 1,177 kilometer (731 mile) pipeline built after U.S. President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas.
Alberta has the world's third-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela: more than 170 billion barrels. Daily production of 1.5 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to increase to 3.7 million in 2025, which the oil industry sees as a pressing reason to build the pipelines.