The federal government approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline today, but it will still be years before shovels hit the ground on this project -- if it gets built at all.

“You have local opposition, you have (B.C. Premier) Christy Clark’s conditions and then most importantly a very staunch First Nations objection, so I would be hesitant to bet on it probably happening within the decade,” Andrew Leach, Enbridge professor of energy policy at the University of Alberta, told Kevin Newman Live. (Enbridge doesn’t fund Leach’s position despite the title).

Skip ahead to the 3-minute mark of the video above to see our full interview with Leach.

Leach believes this is going to end up in the Canada’s top court, so shovels won’t break ground until at least 2020.

“If Enbridge continues to push for the project the scenario of court challenges and almost certainly a Supreme Court challenge at the end is inevitable,” he said, adding that Enbridge hasn’t been able to being on local residents or First Nations communities.

The Conservative government set today as the deadline to make its decision. The proposed $6.5-billion pipeline would run 1,200 kilometres from just north of Edmonton to Kitimat, B.C., and carry up to 525,000 barrel of oil per day. The reason for it running west is to take advantage of the Asian markets.

Leach said North America has more crude than it can use and it sells for a premium in Asia. The quickest route to get the crude to tide water is through B.C.

And that is why Leach said this option of the Northern Gateway pipeline will continue to be an attractive offer despite the hurdles and delays.

He said the current options for shipping oil out of Alberta include sending it to New Brunswick for about $10/barrel and the Gulf Coast for about $7-$8/barrel. Shipping it to Kitimat via a pipeline would cost about $4-$5/barrel.