Enbridge Inc. is a Canadian energy company intending to build two opposite flowing parallel pipelines, transporting crude oil westbound from the rich Athabasca tar sands, and natural gas condensate eastbound from the coast of British Columbia. The purpose of transporting bitumen to the west coast is in order to have an outlet to the Pacific Ocean and subsequently export to the growing Asian oil markets via oil tankers. Alberta’s tar sands are estimated to have 166 billion barrels of proven reserves as of 2014, and production capacity has reached 2.3 million barrels per day (Government of Alberta, 2014). The “gateway” to the subsequent Asian markets will thus lead to the intensification of oil extraction to a projected 6.2 million barrels…show more content… The project is high risk, high reward for all the stakeholders involved, which is why Enbridge is being held to such a high standard of safety and security, with the National Energy Board approving the project under 209 conditions. Costs of constructing the pipeline are estimated to range from $5.5 to $7.5 Billion. Figure 1- Proposed route of Northern Gateway Pipeline in relation to the Alberta tar sands and the Douglas Channel.
Alberta’s tar sands are considered one of the largest crude oil deposits in the world, and remain largely untapped. Out of all Canada’s current oil exports, 99% of it goes to the United States (Government of Canada, 2015). This high dependence leaves the Canadian oil industry susceptible to the (lack of) demand in American markets. The necessity for the emergence of new oil markets is an imperative concern for Canada, considering the proposed Keystone XL pipeline faces substantial opposition in the U.S that threatens their reliance on the Canadian oil sands. Investment in the project is mostly from foreign entities, as Enbridge makes up less than half of the partnership. Major investments are coming from Asia’s largest refinery company Sinopec Corp, China’s National Offshore Oil Co. that bought out Calgary’s Nexen for a reported $15.1 billion in 2013, and PetroChina, which have a large stake in the new oil sands