The federal government has conditionally approved an expansion of TransCanada's Nova Gas Transmission gathering system in northern Alberta.

The decision includes 36 binding conditions as set out by the National Energy Board in its recommendation for approval in June.

Five of the conditions concern protection and restoration of caribou habitat as the project would run through three boreal woodland caribou ranges.

Alta Caribou Fight

Caribou protection has been a priority for the Alberta government, but some say their methods are flawed. (Mike Bedell/CPAWS/Canadian Press)

Natural Resources Canada says it expects the $1.3-billion project to create up to 3,000 jobs during construction.

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard says the company expects the first part of the expansion of the natural gas system to be ready for service next spring and the entire project to be completed by the second quarter of 2018.

The NEB recommendation in June included 12 additional conditions related to temporary infrastructure, such as access roads and construction camps.