Bitumen or no bitumen? That is the question in the pipeline


On Thursday, Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel told Reuters that the company “would prefer to supply natural gas to the Kitimat liquefied natural gas plant in British Columbia over any other export project in western Canada.”

That immediately raised a question in the northwest is Enbridge thinking of replacing the Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline with a natural gas pipeline? Or is it planning two pipelines?

So far Enbridge has not responded to a request from  Northwest Coast Energy news for clarification.

This afternoon, Jeff Lewis writing on Alberta Oil’s website in Another suitor sidles up to Kitimat LNG says:

No word yet on whether Tim Wall, the CEO of Apache Canada Ltd., is keen to take on another partner for the massive development. (The Reuters report has Enbridge building a natural gas line in conjunction with its proposed Northern Gateway line, which is to be twinned with a pipe for importing bitumen-thinning condensate from the coast; there’s no mention of sending natural gas west on the Gateway website).

But the question still remains. The Reuters report actually isn’t that clear on whether it will be a bitumen pipeline twinned with a natural gas pipeline or a natural gas pipeline substituted for the bitumen pipeline.

Here is what Reuters said.

Enbridge plans to build a natural gas pipeline along the route of the proposed Gateway oil line, which would transport natural gas from Horn River and other natural gas fields to the coast by 2016, Daniel said.

There is already speculation and rumour in Kitimat about the Enbridge announcement. Environmental activists have long feared that there would be a twinning of the two projects, while many people sitting on the fence were willing to accept liquified natural gas but not bitumen.

If there is any truth to the rumours circulating in Kitimat, there may be more corporate announcements after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend that will make the situation a little clearer.