UPDATE 1-Noise edict could kill Mackenzie pipeline-Imperial

* Imperial, partners urge rejection of some measures

* Dismiss call for strict noise limits at bird sanctuary

* NEB will use report, responses in decision
(Recasts with noise recommendation, Imperial comments)

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 29 (BestGrowthStock) – A panel’s
recommendation to enforce strict noise limits at a bird
sanctuary has the potential to shut down development of the
C$16.2 billion ($15.1 billion) Mackenzie pipeline in Canada’s
Arctic, the project’s backers said.

The contention is among several by Imperial Oil Ltd
(IMO.TO: ) and its Mackenzie partners in written responses to
proposals made by the Joint Review Panel, which assessed the
massive project’s environmental and socioeconomic impacts in a
report issued at the end of last year.

Canada’s National Energy Board will use the report, and
responses to it, in deciding whether to approve the Mackenzie
project, which has been plagued with delays and rising costs.
It has planned final arguments for April.

The JRP said the proponents should be required to design
any facilities within the Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary,
located on the northern end of the Mackenzie Delta in the
Northwest Territories, to keep noise levels below 50 decibels
at 300 metres (984 feet) from the fence line.

Imperial said such a measure has so far proved impossible,
and is not needed to protect birds in the sanctuary from
adverse effects. Enforcing it it could prevent development of
two of the natural gas fields that will feed to pipeline.

“To make this a condition for any approvals for facilities
in the Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary would have the potential
effect of preventing development of the Taglu and Niglintgak
anchor fields, and therefore, the entire Mackenzie gas
project,” Imperial said.

In two letters of response, the company urged regulators to
reject several of the JRP’s recommendations.

The panel gave its support to the line, which would run
1,220 km (760 miles) through the territory, saying it would
bring benefits to Canada’s North if 176 recommendations are
followed.

They include a diverse range of measures covering such
things as analysis of the impact of climate change on
facilities buried in permafrost, monitoring grizzly bear dens
and assessing if alcohol and drug abuse programs in the
sparsely populated region are adequate.

Fewer than half are aimed at the pipeline’s backers. The
rest target the federal and territorial governments as well as
other regulators.

“Our responses were directed at measures that we believed
would have the net effect of increasing regulatory complexity
or might affect regulatory timing, etcetera,” Imperial
spokesman Pius Rolheiser said.

“Then we had a number of comments on specific
recommendations pertaining to specific aspects of the project,
including the one dealing with noise levels in the Kendall
Island Bird Sanctuary.”

The Joint Review Panel urged the NEB to refrain from
granting approvals for future applications for projects or
activities until some actions are completed. This should be
rejected, Imperial said, arguing that such applications should
be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Another recommendation, that proponents complete certain
tasks prior to any construction, would be unwieldy because work
takes place at different locations over four years.

“It is not practical to expect that all plans, manuals and
specifications for all construction activities at all locations
will be made available before the first right-of-way or site
preparation activity begins,” the company wrote.

Imperial said many JRP recommendations are “far-reaching
and apply to activities that are not associated with the
Mackenzie Gas Project.”

It did not address them directly, but said the governments
should avoid adopting any that have the potential to discourage
development in Canada’s North.

Imperial’s partners in the project are Royal Dutch Shell
Plc (RDSa.L: ), ConocoPhillips (COP.N: ), Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: )
and Aboriginal Pipeline Group.

($1=$1.07 Canadian)

Stock Investing

(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; editing by Rob Wilson)

UPDATE 1-Noise edict could kill Mackenzie pipeline-Imperial