Alta. sends ‘a clear mes­sage’

Al­berta pro­poses leg­is­la­tion to limit oil ship­ments

Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Dean Ben­nett THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — ED­MON­TON

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would give the en­ergy min­is­ter power to re­strict the flow of oil, ga­so­line and nat­u­ral gas leav­ing the prov­ince. Once passed, Marg McCuaig-Boyd would be able to di­rect truck­ers, pipe­line com­pa­nies and rail op­er­a­tors on how much prod­uct could be shipped and when. Vi­o­la­tors would face fines of up to $1 mil­lion a day for in­di­vid­u­als and $10 mil­lion a day for cor­po­ra­tions.

“The bill sends a clear mes­sage: we will use ev­ery tool at our dis­posal to de­fend Al­ber­tans (and) to de­fend our re­sources,” Not­ley said Mon­day be­fore in­tro­duc­ing the pro­posed law in the leg­is­la­ture.

Ex­ist­ing pipe­lines are near ca­pac­ity and the bill aims to give Al­berta the power to ad­just what is shipped and where it goes to en­sure max­i­mum prof­itabil­ity, she said.

Al­berta is locked in a dis­pute with Bri­tish Columbia over the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line. An ex­pan­sion to the West Coast has been ap­proved by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, but B.C. is fight­ing it in the courts.

Not­ley said the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion is not pun­ish­ing B.C. for the Kinder Mor­gan project’s de­lay, which she says costs Canada $40 mil­lion a day in lost rev­enue due to mar­ket bot­tle­necks and higher ship­ping fees.

But she said Al­berta is “very com­mit­ted to putting pres­sure on B.C. to come around and fo­cus on what this pipe­line ac­tu­ally means.”

B.C. En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ge­orge Hey­man said his prov­ince will care­fully ex­am­ine the leg­is­la­tion Al­berta has tabled.

“I’m not count­ing on Al­berta tak­ing ex­treme or un­law­ful ac­tions, but if they do we’re pre­pared to de­fend Bri­tish Columbians’ in­ter­ests with ev­ery le­gal means avail­able and in the courts,” he said.

Hey­man said the gov­ern­ment would con­sider court ac­tion if the leg­is­la­tion were to cause ga­so­line prices in B.C. to spike.

“If they do that, we’ll ex­am­ine ex­actly what leg­is­la­tion they bring in and if we be­lieve it’s flawed ... we’ll cer­tainly take them to court.”

The B.C. at­tor­ney gen­eral, David Eby, said B.C. is pre­pared to sue Al­berta if the law pun­ishes his prov­ince.

“We know, as I’m sure they know, that the con­sti­tu­tion for­bids dis­crim­i­na­tion around en­ergy be­tween prov­inces,” Eby said.

Al­berta United Con­ser­va­tive Party Leader Ja­son Ken­ney said he’s glad the gov­ern­ment ap­pears to have fol­lowed the party’s sug­ges­tion to “turn off the taps,” to demon­strate real eco­nomic con­se­quences.

“I don’t want a trade war, but if B.C. starts a trade war, we’re go­ing to end it.”

Lib­eral leg­is­la­ture mem­ber David Swann said Al­berta must use the power care­fully be­cause it could hurt the prov­ince’s econ­omy and di­vide the coun­try.

Oil ship­pers are re­act­ing with trep­i­da­tion to leg­is­la­tion the Al­berta New Democrats in­tro­duced Mon­day that would give the gov­ern­ment power to re­strict en­ergy ex­ports from the prov­ince. Cana­dian En­ergy Pipe­line As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Chris Bloomer said he un­der­stands the Al­berta gov­ern­ment needs to act on the im­passe with Bri­tish Columbia over Kinder Mor­gan’s Trans Moun­tain pipe­line project, but is wor­ried about the po­ten­tial con­se­quences of the bill.

“We are con­cerned that the mea­sures be­ing con­sid­ered in Bill 12 could have longer-term, un­in­tended con­se­quences for in­dus­try and the pub­lic at-large. We hope that the mea­sures will not need to be im­ple­mented,” Bloomer said in a state­ment.

Park­land Fuel spokes­woman An­nie Cuer­rier said the com­pany won’t spec­u­late on gov­ern­ment ac­tion, but will work to en­sure it can con­tinue to sup­ply re­fin­ery cus­tomers through­out the re­gion.

“Any ac­tion that re­stricts the sup­ply of oil to Bri­tish Columbia would be neg­a­tive for the economies of both B.C. and Al­berta,” Cuer­rier said in an email.

The leg­is­la­tion would give Al­berta’s en­ergy min­is­ter power to di­rect truck­ers, pipe­line com­pa­nies and rail op­er­a­tors on how much prod­uct can be shipped and when. Vi­o­la­tors would face fines of up to $1 mil­lion a day for in­di­vid­u­als and $10 mil­lion a day for cor­po­ra­tions.

Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley said be­fore in­tro­duc­ing the bill that it sends the mes­sage that the prov­ince will use ev­ery tool to de­fend its re­sources.

Al­berta is locked in a dis­pute with B.C. over the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion, but Not­ley said the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion is not to pun­ish B.C. for de­lays to the project.

She said the prov­ince was, how­ever, very com­mit­ted to putting pres­sure on B.C. to fo­cus on what the pipe­line means, in­clud­ing the es­ti­mated $40 mil­lion a day Canada is los­ing due to mar­ket bot­tle­necks and higher ship­ping fees.

Cut­ting off the sup­ply of ga­so­line to B.C. would have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact to the prov­ince, adding at least 45 cents per litre to Lower Main­land gas prices, said GasBuddy se­nior petroleum an­a­lyst Dan McTeague.

“This is go­ing to leave a mark ... at least half the gas sta­tions in the Lower Main­land would be in­ter­rupted.”

Much of the ga­so­line con­sumed in B.C. comes from Al­berta, de­liv­ered mainly through the ex­ist­ing Trans Moun­tain pipe­line, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional En­ergy Board, with less than 10 per cent of sup­plies im­ported on ships from the north­west­ern U.S.

The bill looks to be a “very strong tool” that the oil and gas in­dus­try hopes is not needed, said Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Petroleum Pro­duc­ers spokes­woman Chelsie Klassen.

“At first glance it could have eco­nomic con­se­quences on our in­dus­try and Al­berta’s econ­omy, in­clud­ing po­ten­tial em­ploy­ment de­pend­ing on scope and time­lines,” Klassen said in an email.

She said the in­dus­try group has a keen in­ter­est in see­ing what con­crete ac­tions the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will take to re­solve the is­sue.

Kinder Mor­gan Canada said it had no com­ment on the bill, though com­pany CEO Ian An­der­son said in Fe­bru­ary that the com­pany wouldn’t look to shut off sup­plies along the pipe­line be­cause it was im­prac­ti­cal and not com­mer­cially fea­si­ble.

Any leg­is­la­tion that forces com­pa­nies to re­duce ship­ments would be a re­stric­tion of in­ter­provin­cial trade and could be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, said Trevor Tombe, an econ­o­mist with the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary.

“This tool would be en­act­ing a mea­sure that is sim­i­lar to the types of things that we would say here in Al­berta that B.C. can­not do,” said Tombe.

“To some ex­tent, it un­der­mines the strength of Al­berta’s own mes­sage when fight­ing against trade re­stric­tions sug­gested by Bri­tish Columbia.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.