The replacement programme comes after safety concerns emerged in 2016 about ground stability of the banks of the Mackenzie River, which the pipeline crosses. Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) received an application from Enbridge to replace 2.5km of its Line 21 Pipeline, also known as the Norman Wells Pipeline, in March 2017.
When operational, the 12 inch, 750 km pipeline can transport 50,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The repairs are estimated to cost C$53 million (€34.5 million).
As a part of the approval, the NED attached 26 ‘mandatory project conditions’. This includes the obligation to file an ‘Indigenous Monitoring Plan’ with the board, which will outline how indigenous people will participate in monitoring project during and after construction. The board also prescribed ‘Indigenous Engagement Reports’ and an ‘Indigenous Knowledge and Land Use Study Update’.
Members of the Liidlii Kue First Nation have previously said that Enbridge failed to properly consult them, according to local press.
In its review of the application, the NEB held a public hearing, with indigenous people, local government, Enbridge and Imperial Oil in attendance. They also carried out an environmental assessment, concluding that “the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.” The NED coordinated its hearing with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, who also have regulatory responsibilities in the area of the project.
Imperial Oil ran a refinery in Norman Wells but closed it after the pipeline suspended operation. It is reported by Canadian press that Imperial Oil had put the facility up for sale about a month before this.