Working With Enbridge Northern Gateway

March 12, 2012

For more than six years, Communica Public Affairs has worked alongside Enbridge Pipelines Inc. helping to shape the public involvement and stakeholder engagement strategies and initiatives associated with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project (Northern Gateway).

In May 2010, Northern Gateway achieved a significant milestone when the company filed its regulatory application with the National Energy Board (NEB). The application, in 8 volumes and 10 binders, will be the largest the NEB has ever reviewed. The filing has now shifted the project into the next phase of development – the regulatory review process.

At a glance, Northern Gateway’s proposal involves two twin pipelines, one to export oil and one to import condensate (a product used to thin petroleum products for pipeline transport) and will extend 1172 kilometres from Bruderheim, Alberta, to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, B.C. This $5.5 billion project will provide access to new growing markets for Canadian oil and will create substantial economic benefits such as an estimated $2.6 billion in tax revenues throughout the life of the project.

The success of a project like Northern Gateway depends on the support of the communities it impacts. Communica has been working with Enbridge for many years to design and implement its public consultation program. The program has been designed to:

  • provide up-to-date information about the project
  • identify key stakeholders and key issues
  • listen to concerns and answer questions
  • obtain input from stakeholders and incorporate it into project design, planning, construction and operations where practical
  • establish and execute community engagement initiatives such as public open houses, presentations to government and community organizations, small group meetings, newsletters, toll-free line / email address monitoring, and community-based forums like the Community Advisory Boards (CABs) – all established for stakeholder participation and input throughout the entire project lifecycle

Communica helps to ensure that Enbridge is following the rigorous regulatory requirements necessary in the stakeholder engagement processes. One of the largest components of this is the management of its stakeholder lists and database. Northern Gateway’s stakeholder database currently tracks thousands of stakeholders including Aboriginal groups, community organizations, landowners, businesses, governments, and the general public. Stakeholders may be directly located along the proposed project route, or individuals from all over North America who have simply shown interest in the project in a variety of ways such as employment opportunities, environmental questions, and requests to receive project updates.

The database tracks all stakeholder interactions and consultation. Consultation activities range from letter mail outs, emails, project presentations, meetings, open houses, telephone calls, workshops and more. Communica is responsible for maintaining up-to-date records of contacts and the tracking of key issues raised by stakeholders through these consultation events. It is through this meticulous record keeping that Communica helps Enbridge maintain transparency for its stakeholders and regulators.

Knowing the communities and people who live in them throughout Western Canada is an added bonus that Communica brings to Northern Gateway, and other clients. Communica has spent a great deal of time in the communities along Northern Gateway’s proposed route. We have the resources to support Enbridge in the field during direct stakeholder consultation. Whether it be setting up and attending a tradeshow, assisting with sponsorship opportunities at a conference, or dropping in at the mayor’s office for coffee and providing a project update, we are able to be “on-the-ground” when our client cannot.

Communica has the ability to step in and seamlessly join a proponent’s stakeholder engagement team, and with Northern Gateway, the Communica team will provide ongoing strategic advice to assist Enbridge to continually meet regulatory requirements moving forward. We have come to understand the level of work, the scrutiny and the detail that has gone into planning this new gateway and we feel fortunate to be involved in this project.