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Enbridge Inc. (ENB.TO 51.37 -0.26 -0.5%), facing resistance to the end point for its proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline, could pursue another option thanks to its December purchase of a parcel of land close to the British Columbia port of Prince Rupert.
Changing the final leg of the route to the Pacific offers a way for Enbridge to demonstrate flexibility and possibly alter the debate around the pipeline, which a majority of British Columbians want to see blocked or delayed, according to a Bloomberg-Nanos poll released this week.
“Prince Rupert is probably a path of less resistance,” said David McColl, an analyst who covers Enbridge at Morningstar Investment Services Inc. in Chicago. “It has some challenges, but it’s an option I think they’re creating.”
The 64-hectare property is intended for a potential liquefied natural gas operation and not as a terminal for the $6.5 billion Gateway project, said Ivan Giesbrecht, a spokesman for the Calgary-based company. Enbridge paid $20 million for the land.
Coastal aboriginal groups have been resolute in their opposition to Gateway’s planned terminus point in Kitimat, further south and more inland than Prince Rupert. They argue the 300-kilometre route between Kitimat and open sea would force oil tankers to navigate shallow, narrow channels prone to treacherous weather, raising the risk of oil spills.
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