The National Energy Board is hearing landowners concerns regarding the Beatton River Replacement Project.

The project is being proposed by Provident Energy Pipeline Inc. The project is essentially being done in two parts. The first part involves replacing portions of the existing 53.1 km pipeline that is more than 50 years-old. This pipeline currently runs from Taylor, B.C. to Boundary Lake, Alta. carrying sweet high vapour pressure hydrocarbon products.

The second part of the proposed project is the construction of a new section of pipeline that would run 16.3 km and would cross the Beatton River. The pipeline would cross the river approximately 12 km from the mouth of the Beatton River and where it joins from the Peace River.

The proposed pipeline would take the same right of way as the existing pipeline but would cross the Beatton River further south where the slope is more stable, says Garry Dlouhy, the senior manager of operations for western Canada with Provident.

Several affected landowners spoke about their concerns at the hearing, with some saying they had felt intimidated by Provident representatives and pressured to sign contracts with the company.

Dloughy says the company already has existing agreements that were signed when the original project was constructed and which are still valid. However, he says the company must still negotiate items such as working space compensation or damages remediation. He also says the company is certainly willing to negotiate with landowners, but hopes to have the projects carried out this fall.

The oral portion of the hearings is happening all day Thursday in Fort St. John.

After the oral portion of the hearings are complete, the NEB will deliberate for a few weeks and then issue a decision, either for or against the proposed project, says Carole Leger-Kubeczek, a communications officer with the NEB. Leger-Kubeczek says if the project is approved, the Board will also issue conditions and, at that point, Provident would be able to proceed.