Canada's National Energy Board has approved the $1 billion (Canadian) natural gas pipeline system from Sable Island off Nova Scotia to New England markets.
The board had earlier approved the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline system but was ordered by the Federal Court to reopen the application because of an appeal by an aboriginal group.
The board said it is heartened by indications that meaningful and productive negotiations have been taking place and that an agreement may be forthcoming. It said the negotiators believe a consensus has been reached, but a written agreement has not been forged.
NEB cautioned the two sides that they have a small window of opportunity to resolve the matter while the board does the same.
NEB has the power to impose an agreement if negotiations between the pipeline and the First Nations group in Nova Scotia fail.
The pipeline said it is pleased with the board's decision to approve the line, which is completed and ready for start-up.
In October, NEB announced it would hold two written proceedings after a ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal said NEB had incorrectly ruled aboriginal concerns were dealt with in its original 1997 approval. A judicial review was conducted on behalf of three aboriginal groups in Nova Scotia, and the board was required to reopen the issue.
The aboriginal groups are seeking compensation for the pipeline crossing their lands.
Partners in the 460 MMcfd pipeline are Westcoast Energy Inc., Mobil Corp., and Duke Energy Corp.