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Canada gas project, pipeline gets green light

by Staff Writers
Montreal (AFP) Jan 3, 2010
A project to develop gas fields in Canada's Northwest Territories and build a 1,200-kilometer (745 miles) pipeline won a green light after a review found it poses no major environmental concerns.

After a four-year review, the Joint Review Panel concluded in its report that the adverse impacts of the Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP) "would not likely be significant and that the project... would likely make a positive contribution towards a sustainable northern future," as long as its 176 recommendations are followed.

Put together by Imperial Oil, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhilips and Shell, the project targets three natural gas fields in the Mackenzie River delta in the Northwest Territories, and plans a 1,200-kilometer pipeline to pump the gas southward to Alberta province.

Projected to cost several billion dollars, the MGP has been opposed by environmentalists who fear the natural gas will be used to boost the oil-sands project in Alberta, contributing to the highly-polluting extraction of petroleum from bitumen.

"The panel is not persuaded that gas from the MGP would in fact be used in exploitation of the oil sands," the panel said in its final report.

It admitted, however, that it "sees no viable way by which specific end uses could be assigned to or excluded from project gas."

The joint committee recommended that "Canada's climate change policies include provisions for optimizing the benefits of using natural gas as a transition fuel to developing a sustainable low-carbon economy."

The panel further advised that the MGP pay special attention in its development to the protection of endangered species in the region, including the beluga whale, polar bear, and caribou.

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