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Canada introduces BC oil tanker ban

15 May 2017 21:15 (+01:00 GMT)
Canada introduces BC oil tanker ban

Houston, 15 May (Argus) — Canada has introduced legislation to ban crude tankers on British Columbia's northern coast, a move that would hinder efforts to expand oil sands production access to overseas markets.

The legislation, introduced in Parliament by the administration of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, will prohibit tankers carrying crude and other oil products from stopping, loading or unloading at ports or marine installations along the BC coast — from the mainline tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border. It also includes the Haida Gwaii archipelago.

The moratorium will provide "a high level of protection" for the coastal areas around Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, the government said.

If enacted, the tanker ban would essentially end Enbridge's planned 525,000 b/d Northern Gateway project. The project would have delivered diluted bitumen from Bruderheim, Alberta, to the port at Kitimat, BC, and ship 193,000 b/d of condensate diluent on a parallel line in the other direction. Trudeau rejected Northern Gateway in December, saying the project was not in the interest of local communities. The project has been in planning for more than a decade, but has been opposed by environmentalists and several indigenous groups.

Enbridge did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.

The proposed ban includes 14 categories of products, including synthetic crudes, heavy blended fuel oils, partially upgraded bitumen, bituminous and fuel oil emulsions, some types of condensate, and other fuel oils such as marine diesel oil.

Vessels carrying cargo of less than 12,500 metric tonnes or about 91,600 bl of crude or the specified oil products will continue to be allowed to ensure northern communities can receive critical shipments of heating oils and other products.

The legislation proposes penalties as high as $5mn for violations of the moratorium.

The bill also allows flexibility to add amendments to possibly change what products are included in the ban.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said the legislation would significantly impair Canada's oil and natural gas resources from reaching new markets.

"The federal government has not identified or provided industry with science‐based gaps in safety or environmental protection that justifies a moratorium," the group said.

CAPP also said that tankers have safely and regularly transported crude from Canada's west coast since the 1930s.

The tanker ban is part of Trudeau's $1.5bn, five-year plan to protect coastal areas from oil spills and increase emergency response measures.