ANCHORAGE - Canada's National Energy Board says it expects to hear final arguments on the proposed Mackenzie natural gas pipeline in April.
The April date is dependent on the release of a report, scheduled for December, on environmental, socio-economic and cultural effects of the 720-mile pipeline, the board said in a press release Wednesday.
The board says that as part of its mandate, it has to consider the recommendations and proposals for remedial measures from the Joint Review Panel.
Remedial measures could be incorporated as conditions into any approvals granted the project to bring natural gas from the Mackenzie Delta to market.
"The Mackenzie Gas Project is one of the largest infrastructure projects to ever be proposed in this country," said energy board Panel Chair Ken Vollman. "It has been a long road to get to this point and we are very pleased to be approaching the final stages of our journey."
The partners in the project are Imperial Oil Resources Ventures, the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, Imperial Oil Resources, ConocoPhillips (North), Shell Canada and ExxonMobil Canada Properties.
"It's encouraging to see some confirmation of some critical points in the regulatory process," said spokesman Pius Rolheiser of lead partner Imperial Oil in a statement to the Calgary Herald. He noted that if the National Energy Board approves the project, the partners would evaluate the decision and any conditions before deciding whether to proceed with the pipeline and related facilities.
Once final arguments are concluded, the National Energy Board will make its decision and prepare a document explaining its reasoning.