​Oilsands execs see brighter future with approval of Line 3 pipeline project

Image: Enbridge

CALGARY — Executives from the biggest oilsands companies in Canada say concerns about getting their products to market are starting to ease in the wake of the regulatory approval of Enbridge Inc.'s $9-billion Line 3 pipeline replacement project.

The project to add about 375,000 barrels per day of export capacity into the United States cleared its last major regulatory hurdle at the end of June when it was conditionally endorsed by Minnesota state officials.

Executives from Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Imperial Oil Ltd., Husky Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. say the decision, especially when combined with a deal by the federal government to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and its expansion project for $4.5 billion, could allow them to consider expansion projects again.

However, they said while taking part in a panel at the TD Securities Calgary Energy Conference that such decisions also hinge on federal and provincial regulatory and tax certainty.

Husky CEO Rob Peabody says the company expects to grow its overall oil and gas production by about five per cent per year going forward, adding it has excess pipeline capacity now but it will need more room for its growing Western Canada production by about 2023.

Suncor chief operating officer Mark Little says his company has sufficient contracted pipeline space as production ramps up at its recently completed 194,000-barrel-per-day Fort Hills oilsands project, but it will hold off on adding major production projects until it's satisfied that all market access, regulatory and fiscal issues are more clearly understood.

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