Change would see Nova Scotia regulator eyeball gas shipping costs for consumers

HALIFAX _ Nova Scotia is preparing for the end of natural gas from the Sable Offshore Energy Project.

Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan is proposing changes to the Gas Distribution Act that would allow Nova Scotia’s oil and gas regulator to assess and recover the costs of shipping natural gas into the province by pipeline.

MacLellan says the move is necessary to ensure a continued supply of natural gas as the dismantling of the Sable project begins next year off Nova Scotia.

John Hawkins, president of Heritage Gas _ the province’s sole natural gas distributor _ says allowing the Utility and Review Board to determine the shipping costs to be charged on bills is in consumers’ best interests.

He says allowing the board to recover those costs would help stabilize prices, and the net effect could be lower costs to consumers.

The Sable project, a consortium of five companies majority-owned by ExxonMobil Canada, is made up of seven offshore platforms, 22 wells and 340 kilometres of subsea pipeline.

Work to shut down the facility is slated to start early next year and run for two years before all 22 wells are plugged and abandoned.