Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the Postmedia News that ensuring the public the Northern Gateway pipeline is safe would go a long way toward its eventual success.
"I am still of the belief that we can get this done, on the assumption, of course, that it passes regulatory muster," he said.
Canadian pipeline company Enbridge aims to build the Northern Gateway pipeline to deliver around 525,000 barrels of so-called tar sands oil from deposits in Alberta to the port of Kitimat in British Columbia for Asian exports.
Aboriginal communities and the provincial government of British Columbia have expressed concern about the safety of the project. Tar sands oil, like that from Alberta, is seen as more of an environmental risk than conventional crude oil.
A 40-page report published in December by the University of British Columbia said spill cleanup costs and economic loss from a major tanker spill off the provincial coast could erase gains from the planned pipeline.
Oliver said the government has "a big job to do" in terms of addressing the concerns of aboriginal and provincial leaders.
The government set a Dec. 31 deadline for an environmental review on the project from the National Energy Board.