The president of the Northern Gateway pipeline says the possibility of a 2018 start-up date is "quickly evaporating."
John Carruthers says the company planning to build the project, Enbridge Inc., is focused on getting support from First Nations groups along the pipeline's route through British Columbia.
He told a Calgary business audience that the process of "re-engagement" with First Nations will take time and he's not too fussed about keeping to a schedule.
"We have stated that the earliest in-service date was 2018. That's quickly evaporating because we need to have this time to meet with people," said Carruthers.
"I'm not as fussed on what that date is, I'm more fussed on can we have the support we need to go ahead, so it's positive for all people of Canada, including aboriginal people."
"That's going to take time and it's going to take the time it takes."
Northern Gateway, which has been in the works for six years, received regulatory approval in June, but the company has said it's not in a rush to put shovels in the ground.
In addition to discussions with First Nations, Enbridge is also in the process of pinning down a new cost estimate and working through 209 conditions imposed with the regulatory approval.
If built, Northern Gateway would ship 525,000 barrels per day of diluted oilsands crude from the Edmonton area to Kitimat, B.C., where the oil would be loaded onto tankers and shipped to Asia.