An oil spill off B.C.’s coast could cost up to $9.6 billion, according to a University of British Columbia (UBC) study released yesterday.
That cost would wipe out any economic benefits of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry diluted Alberta bitumen and be shipped to Asia on tankers, according to the study’s authors.
“There is a lot of rhetoric around the potential economic gains of this proposed project, but the hard numbers are showing that the risks can outweigh the gains,” said UBC professor Rashid Sumaila, who co-wrote the study with UBC fisheries economist Ngaio Hotte.
The World Wildlife Fund-sponsored study estimated that the proposed pipeline would create up to 8,500 full time jobs and produce more than $600 million in economic benefits during the lifetime of the project.
Were a spill to occur, however, there would be $9.6 billion in clean-up costs and more than $300 million in cost to the region’s commercial fisheries, port, ferry and tourism industries, the report noted.
The study used data provided by pipeline proponent Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB).
“We compared the economic benefits of the project to potential losses of spills of varying scales and found that a large-scale spill could cost local fishermen, the Port of Prince Rupert, BC Ferries and marine tourism operators roughly $300 million, 4,000 full-time jobs and $200 million in contribution to GDP over 50 years,” said Hotte.