It has been seven years since a long-distance pipeline project departing western Canada has been completed, despite nearly 2.9 million bbls/d of capacity being proposed.
As IHS Markit outlines in the new Oil Sands Dialogue report Pipelines, Prices and Promises, given that projects have failed to materialize, "concern has been expressed that the review process has become increasingly uncertain, contentious, lengthy, and as a result, costly."
The single greatest source of uncertainty in the pipeline review process in recent years has come after regulators have made their recommendations and when elected officials needed to issue a decision, IHS Markit notes.
A key example of this was the National Energy Board issuing approval to the Northern Gateway Pipeline, subject to 209 conditions, in late 2013. This was followed by federal approval under Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2014, which was overturned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in late 2016.
At the same time Trudeau also issued a federal permit for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion.
However, a pipeline receiving a permit does not mean the process is over, IHS Markit notes.
"Between permitting, construction and ultimately operation, many additional factors can affect project completion. These can include adhering to any number of conditions imposed by government, addressing public interests and interests of particular groups, and responding to requests for judicial review," the report says.
"The story on these pipelines is not over, since none have been completed and the potential for additional delay exists."