CALGARY, A.B. – The president of the company proposing the $16-billion Eagle Spirit Pipeline says his project could win regulatory approval if the federal government backs down on its plan to ban oil tanker traffic on the north coast of B.C.

Calvin Helin of Eagle Spirit Energy Holding Ltd. says his project to build a pipeline corridor from Fort McMurray in northern Alberta to Prince Rupert, B.C., has several advantages over the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion whose regulatory approval was recently overturned in court.

He says Eagle River has 100 percent Indigenous backing along its route and the risk rating for shipping from its port near Prince Rupert is very low – thus avoiding two major stumbling blocks for Trans Mountain’s conduit from Edmonton to the Vancouver area.

However, he repeated a threat to move the shipping point of the project to Alaska if the federal government approves Bill C-68, which would ban oil tankers from loading on the north coast.

Helin told reporters following a speech at the International Pipeline Conference in Calgary that the company hopes to announce deals with crude buyers or shippers in October and plans to apply for National Energy Board approval sometime next year.

Helin said a GoFundMe campaign launched last January by a coalition of First Nations to mount a legal challenge to the oil tanker ban has failed but the group still intends to fight the ban if it is approved based on Ottawa’s failure to conduct Indigenous consultations before making its decision.

The Eagle Spirit Pipeline corridor would be built in stages, he said, with the first two-million-barrel-per-day oil pipeline delivered for about $12 billion. Eventually, a second oil pipeline and two liquefied natural gas lines would be added.