EnCana Corp.'s application to build a 176 kilometer underwater natural gas pipeline off the coast of Nova Scotia to ship up to 300 MMcf/d from its dormant Deep Panuke project got a thumb's up from Canada's National Energy Board (NEB).

The proposed C$234 million Deep Panuke Pipeline would connect to EnCana's proposed Deep Panuke Offshore Gas Development Project to move gas from an offshore production unit near Sable Island to Goldboro, NS. EnCana expects to extract up to 630 Bcf of gas over the project's 13-year life span. Once onshore, the gas could be piped to market via an expansion proposed by Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, which concluded an open season on Phase V in August (see NGI, June 4). Production could ramp up in 2010, according to NEB.

The Deep Panuke is located about 45 kilometers west-southwest of Sable Island and about 250 kilometers southeast of Halifax. EnCana restarted the project in late 2006 following almost four years of redevelopment (see NGI, March 12; Feb. 17, 2003).

Under the proposal, EnCana wants to build a jack-up mobile offshore production unit, subsea flow lines and wells and an export pipeline. If EnCana's board of directors gives its approval, the Deep Panuke development would be the second offshore gas project in Nova Scotia waters following the Goldboro Sable Offshore Energy Project.

In the NEB's Reasons for Decision, which were issued Thursday, Canada's energy board noted that the pipeline will provide direct economic and employment benefits to the Maritimes and act as an incentive for further exploration offshore Nova Scotia.

In March, the NEB and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board held a coordinated concurrent public hearing to gather evidence on the proposed project. The two boards also submitted a Joint Environmental Report in April that included recommended tentative approval of EnCana's revised plans along with recommendations related to protecting "species of special status," water quality and wetlands, among other things (see NGI, May 14). Earlier this month Canadian Minister of the Environment John Baird, who oversees the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, signed off on the proposal and said the development is "not likely" to cause any adverse environmental effects (see NGI, Sept. 10).

NEB's Reasons for Decision included 26 conditions to its approval of the pipeline, including requirements for EnCana to file updated environment protection plans and to report and coordinate its activities with the area's fishing industry.

To read the NEB's 153-page Reasons for Decision (No. GH-2-2006), visit www.neb.gc.ca/.

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