EnCana Corp. hopes to avoid formal public hearings as it proceeds with a scaled-back version of its original Deep Panuke offshore natural gas project.
The Calgary-based company shelved development of the gas field, about 250 kilometres southeast of Halifax, three years ago, saying it was too costly to proceed at the time.
But the company revised the plan and on Monday it filed a project description with the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.
EnCana now wants to export 300,000 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, down one-quarter from its original plans, with a start date of 2010.
It also wants to increase the amount of waste-water discharges into the ocean, anissue that has concerned environmentalists.
EnCana has also asked for a streamlined regulatory process, saying the project had already received the necessary environmental approvals.
"As far as we understand, EnCana is looking for an assessment process whereby a formal public hearing could be eliminated," said Neal Dawe, spokesman for the offshore petroleum board.
Even without those hearings, however, the board promises full public input.
Nova Scotia Energy Minister Bill Dooks said he wants the regulatory process streamlined too, because thousands of jobs are at stake.
And though EnCana has pulled Deep Panuke once before, he's pleased the company has filed a new project description.
"It certainly sends a strong message that they're serious in the direction they're taking," Dooks said.
EnCana and the Nova Scotia government have an agreement in placethat outlinesjob expectations, industrial benefits, royalties, and payments for research and development for developing Deep Panuke.
The companyhas guaranteed 1.35 million hours of work in Nova Scotia, with 850,000 hours to be undertaken by Nova Scotians.
Eager for a piece of the Deep Panuke pie, Cherubini Metal Works in Dartmouth has notified EnCana that it wants to build the offshore living quarters.
"We're certainly optimistic that some of the work will be coming here," said general manager Steve Ross.
EnCana's project description filing is missing some information, including the overall cost of the project and the amount of natural gas the company believes the Deep Panuke field contains.
EnCana said it will provide that information to regulators in about a month.
Shares of EnCana finished the day with a loss of $1.89, or just over three per cent, at $59.27 on the TSX.