John Carruthers doesn't expect the National Energy Board will give the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline an unconditional green light.
Carruthers, the president of the Northern Gateway division at Calgary-based Enbridge, said Wednesday he expects the Joint Review Panel will impose conditions on the company for its plan to build a $6 billion pipeline to connect Alberta's oilsands with Kitmat.
"I think we will see some conditions put on the pipeline, some verifications from independent parties to say, 'Yes Enbridge said they would do this, they made that commitment and in fact that's what they're doing,' " he said during a break in the hearings at the Columbus Community Centre.
The response about the conditions came after Carruthers was asked what he thought the company would have to do to restore trust after Enbridge admitted to human error in a major diluted bitumen spill in Michigan in 2010. He said regulators will likely keep a closer eye on the company until it proves it can operate safely and respond quickly to spills if they occur.
"Many of the conditions will be what we've committed to over and above regulation," he said. "Some of the commitments we're making on the marine side to have a tug assist to reduce the chance of marine spill."
Carruthers said the National Energy Board's Joint Review Panel hearings have produced a good dialogue between company officials and interveners, like the provincial government. He said the public process is important for the company to rebuild its reputation.
"I agree we have to build trust and people have to go through processes like this, they have to understand what we're trying to do and see our commitments," he said. "Ultimately some of that will have to be verified where people won't trust us until it's proven over time again."
Carruthers emphasized the goal for Enbridge is to constantly try to improve safety features.
"Whatever industrial activity you have, it has some element of risk - the real key is trying to get it as low as possible," he said. "In our case we're trying to get it to zero. That's the direction we're going, we're trying to do the best we can with processes, with people and with technology."