Enbridge not on hook for oil tanker spills

VICTORIA – Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting that the Calgary-based company would not be financially responsible for oil tanker spills resulting from their tar sands project to BC’s north coast.

“Our responsibility is for what we operate… [and] we will operate up to the terminal,” said Daniel in response to a question from Dogwood Initiative’s Corporate Campaigner Eric Swanson. Daniel echoed the company’s previous statements that improvements in tanker technology and navigation have diminished the risks present at the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

“Many people assume that since Enbridge is making the promises about tanker safety, they are responsible for paying when accidents happen,” says Eric Swanson of Dogwood Initiative. “Enbridge is asking coastal British Columbians to take the ultimate risk, without having to shoulder an equal burden themselves.”

Enbridge is proposing two 1,170-kilometre pipelines from Alberta to Kitimat, BC, where a new marine terminal would be built. The pipelines would carry 525,000 barrels/day of crude oil, half the current production of the Alberta tar sands, and a smaller quantity of condensate a petroleum product used to thin the heavy oil. Oil would be loaded onto supertankers at the Kitimat terminal to be shipped to Asia and other markets. The project would require approximately 225 supertankers per year.

Dogwoods Initiative’s questions followed a shareholder vote rejecting a proposal that would have required Enbridge to estimate and disclose the frequency and volume of spills expected from its pipeline to Kitimat and associated tankers, and the financial risks these spills would pose to the company. The proposal received the support of 22.7 million shares representing approximately $850 million, equivalent to about 11% of the company.

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