The National Energy Board (NEB) can “confidently approve” the variance sought by NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL), waiving the condition that the North Montney Mainline (NMML) be constructed if an LNG development previously linked to the project goes ahead.

The hearing kicks off next week, and NGTL filed an opening statement for the portion of the oral hearing starting Jan. 22 in Calgary.

If approved by the board, the application would enable TransCanada Corporation to begin construction of the already-approved pipeline, removing  the requirement it provide formal notice to the board that Progress Energy Canada Ltd. was proceeding with the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, which has since been cancelled (DOB, Jan. 2, 2018).

In its opening statement filed by NGTL with the NEB today, the company stated that many of the issues raised in the current proceeding by those opposed to the variance were previously raised and addressed in the original proceeding. “There are few relevant matters in play,” it said.

Condition 4 precludes construction of the NMML unless an LNG development previously linked to the NMML project goes ahead.

“New circumstances make continued application of Condition 4 inappropriate: there is now an immediate and substantial need for a subset of the NMML facilities to serve shippers that have committed to 20 years of FT-R service to get to NIT,” NGTL stated.

Westcoast Energy Inc., a competing pipeline system now owned by Enbridge Inc., is the only commercial party that has filed evidence in opposition to the variance application, said NGTL.

Westcoast’s fundamental position, that any “supply” extension must be tolled on a standalone basis, (DOB, Dec. 14, 2017), is based on an “unprecedented and arbitrary distinction between extensions and expansions, and between expansions to access markets and extensions to access supply. It has been rejected by the board in GH 001 2014, in Towerbirch (GH-003-2015) and in the decision on Westcoast application to review and vary that decision. It should be rejected again.”