Globe & Mail: Ottawa has many pipeline options, Shell says: “There are plenty of ways for Ottawa to help support the proposed $7-billion Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline besides taking an equity stake in the venture, the head of Shell Canada Ltd. says.”: Friday, November 4, 2005 Page B4
Equity issue not the key right now: CEO
By JOHN PARTRIDGE
TORONTO -- There are plenty of ways for Ottawa to help support the proposed $7-billion Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline besides taking an equity stake in the venture, the head of Shell Canada Ltd. says.
"I think the issue of equity to a certain extent is not the right subject," Clive Mather, president and chief executive officer of Shell Canada, one of the partners in the proposed megaproject, said yesterday. "The right subject is the economic robustness of this project and there are many different ways that we can get to that."
Mr. Mather made his remarks in an interview in Toronto after giving a speech to the Empire Club of Canada.
He is the first senior executive involved in the pipeline proposal to comment publicly since a burst of controversy erupted last week over a newspaper report that said the federal government had offered to take a 20-per-cent equity stake in the pipeline.
This was denied by both Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan and a spokesman for Imperial Oil Ltd., which has taken the lead role among the energy companies that are pushing the project.
Ms. McLellan said that a "long" list of options is under consideration as the government and Imperial Oil continue to negotiate a special fiscal arrangement for the proposed pipeline.
Mr. Mather said yesterday that as things stand, the venture's "economics are not as robust as we'd like.
"So the point we've reached now is to try and improve those economics through discussions around a number of factors which involve the federal government."
He said he remains optimistic a solution can be found.
"All I'm keen to do is to keep all of us focused on fixing that over the next few weeks so we can get down to the real business, start the inquiry and eventually start the project," he said.
The National Energy Board has set Nov. 18 as the date by which it wants the pipeline's backers to say whether they're ready to move to public hearings on the project.
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