Trans Moun­tain back in crosshairs

NDP/Green pact lays out vow to quash pipe ex­pan­sion

StarMetro Vancouver - - VANCOUVER - David P. ball

Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan breathed a sigh of re­lief this win­ter when Premier Christy Clark gave her fi­nal ap­proval to its Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion — but since elec­tion night, the com­pany is back to hold­ing its breath.

It still had a ma­jor hur­dle to over­come: raise enough money to ac­tu­ally build the $7.4-bil­lion project, which would triple the flow of di­luted bi­tu­men oil from Al­berta’s oil­sands across B.C. and in­crease tanker traf­fic sev­en­fold.

But on Tues­day, an­other obstacle arose: the B.C. NDP forged an agree­ment with the Green party that put Kinder Morgan squarely in the crosshairs if the lieu­tenant gover­nor hands power to the op­po­si­tion par­ties fol­low­ing a con­fi­dence vote ex­pected next month in the leg­is­la­ture.

The pact ex­plic­itly lays out what the two par­ties will do if given power: “Im­me­di­ately em­ploy ev­ery tool avail­able to the new govern­ment to stop the ex­pan­sion of the Kinder Morgan pipe­line, the seven-fold in­crease in tanker traf­fic on our coast and the trans­porta­tion of raw bi­tu­men through our province.”

Co­in­ci­den­tally, Tues­day was also the day that the firm hoped to raise $1.7 bil­lion to pro­ceed with its fi­nal in­vest­ment de­ci­sion, paving the way for con­struc­tion to start. It set the share price at just $17 but never reached its goal. Still, the firm was pleased.

“This is an ex­cit­ing day for our cus­tomers, for com­mu­ni­ties and for the many in­di­vid­u­als who are re­ly­ing on this project to de­liver jobs and eco­nomic ben­e­fits to their com­mu­ni­ties,” said pres­i­dent Ian Anderson. “This se­cur­ing of fi­nanc­ing for the project demon­strates the need for and in­ter­est in the op­por­tu­nity for Canada to have bet­ter ac­cess to world mar­kets.”

The fine print of the com­pany’s Ini­tial Pub­lic Of­fer­ing warned about what seems im­mi­nent: a change in B.C.’s govern­ment away from the pro-pipe­line B.C. Lib­er­als, to whom Kinder Morgan and as­so­ci­ated firms do­nated more than $500,000 since 2005.

“Changes in govern­ment, loss of govern­ment sup­port, pub­lic op­po­si­tion and the con­cerns of spe­cial-in­ter­est groups and non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions,” the com­pany’s share-sell prospec­tus stated, “may ex­pose the busi­ness to higher costs, de­lays or even project can­cel­la­tions.”

But with so many per­mits al­ready ap­proved, it’s un­clear whether a po­ten­tial NDP mi­nor­ity govern­ment could succeed in such a feat.

DaviD P. Ball/MeTro

Pro­test­ers from Tsleil-Wau­tuth Na­tion pad­dle to­ward a Trans Moun­tain fa­cil­ity in Burn­aby to con­duct a wa­ter bless­ing cer­e­mony on May 14.

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