Photo copyright Enbridge

The decision on the construction of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline is expected by mid-2014, suggesting that the first transportation of crude via the proposed 1,170-km line could start in 2018, according to Vern Yu, senior vice-president at the company.

If approved, the $5.5 billion Northern Gateway project would see a twin pipeline running from Alberta to British Columbia, carrying 525,000 barrels of oil on a daily basis. But Yu says that the company is prepared to face strong opposition to its project and predicted that a potential green light for the pipeline would be appealed by environmental organizations. Challenges to the project could take until 2015, at which point Enbridge could start the construction. This would make the expected launch date some time in 2018, he calculated.

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In a bid to boost public support for the project in British Columbia, Enbridge has started a media campaign that pledges a better and safer pipeline, Yu said in an interview for CBC News.

At the same time, the company's CEO, Al Monaco, commented that so far communities to be affected by the pipeline have been reacting well but broader debates regarding oil and gas industry developments could prove more difficult. In spite of that, Monaco was convinced Northern Gateway would be built because of its strategic importance to Canada, CBC reported.