Feds approve $2.3-billion NGTL 2021 expansion

The federal government has approved NOVA Gas Transmission's $2.31-billion NGTL 2021 expansion project.

The expansion consists of 344 kilometres of natural gas pipeline and associated facilities in the Peace River project area, constructed in segments from Grande Prairie to a point north of Calgary.

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The 1.45-bcf/d pipeline is designed to transport natural gas from the western side of the system to the growing demand on the east side. It will “loop” the existing NGTL System with the new pipeline connecting to existing NGTL segments or running adjacent to existing lines.

The government said the project will give natural gas producers better market access and help end coal-fired electricity by 2030.

It's estimated to create up to 2,920 jobs, and add $1.2 billion to Alberta's GDP, according to government figures.

"We want good projects to get done, moving our natural resources to new markets and creating good jobs," Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan said in a release announcing the project's approval late Monday.

"This means meeting our duty to meaningfully consult with potentially impacted Indigenous communities and addressing risks to the environment and species at risk, particularily. By taking the time to do the hard work, good projects are being built in Canada."

The approval comes with 35 conditions related to safety, environmental and wildlife protection, Indigenous engagement, and protection or Indigenous rights and interest, the government said. That includes a requirement for NGTL to restore 3,840 hectares of caribou habitat.

The government was to have decided on the project by May 2020 but the deadline was extended to no later than Oct. 19 at the request of several Indigenous communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expansion had a commercially required in-service date of April 30, 2021, but NGTL revised the timeline in response to the federal government delay in its decision. Under the preliminary timeline, construction was scheduled to begin in September 2020 to enable work to occur primarily during the winter season to take advantage of frozen ground conditions for access to and along the pipeline rights-of-way.

The revised construction schedule is expected to provide up to six per cent of project capacity by April 2021, increasing to as much as 12% of capacity in September-October 2021 and up to 37% in December 2021. The remaining project capacity is expected to be available in March-April 2022.

— with files from the Daily Oil Bulletin

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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