‘I AM NOT GIVING UP ON THIS. WE FOUGHT ... TOO HARD’
Kinder Morgan battles for pipeline amid trade war with B.C., Claudia Cattaneo says.
If the point of the British Columbia government’s continuing tantrums against bitumen pipelines is to get proponent Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. to quit in frustration, it’s not working.
President Ian Anderson, who has led the proposal to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline through years of erratic B.C. politics, said the project is staying the course — even if it’s moving forward at a slower pace than he or his investors would like.
“I am not giving up on this,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “We fought too long and too hard.”
The battle to expand the capacity of Kinder Morgan’s Alberta-to-West Coast pipeline has escalated into an ugly trade war between neighbouring provinces.
Alberta NDP premier Rachel Notley announced a boycott of B.C. wines Tuesday after cancelling talks to buy B.C. electricity. More economic retaliation could be on the way.
She was reacting to yet another stalling tactic by the B.C. government — a plan by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman to impose more regulations on bitumen transportation, including “restrictions on the increase of diluted bitumen transportation until the behaviour of spilled bitumen can be better understood and there is certainty regarding the ability to adequately mitigate spills.”
While the Trans Mountain expansion was not specifically mentioned, Anderson said Heyman’s plan is clearly aiming to disrupt his project, a view he expressed in a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan Tuesday.
“This subject has been studied numerous times over the last several years,” Anderson said in the interview. “There are ongoing commitments to continue further study and research into the behaviour of oil in the marine environment, and those are studies that will continue to be supported by industry and governments. To create a new track of study and research we don’t think is necessary, given the work that has already been done, and fully considered by the National Energy Board and the federal government in coming to their decision.”
Anderson said it’s obvious the motivation of the B.C. government’s plan is “to satisfy the political promises that the premier has made with the Green party.”
The B.C. NDP needs the support of the Green party’s three MLAs to stay in power and they’re not happy these days because of Horgan’s approval of the Site C hydro project and his recent support of liquefied natural gas.
“The premier in B.C. is making it sound like this is a normal course, insignificant path that he is treading down, but we all know where it ends, and it ends in attempts to continue to frustrate and delay us, and we are not going to stand for that,” Anderson said.
Horgan has downplayed the bitumen study announcement, saying a panel to look at the consequences of a spill is not unreasonable.
The boycott against B.C. wine, a growing and beloved provincial industry, got his attention.
Horgan proposed to resolve the bitumen dispute in court — an interesting offer since B.C. has thumbed its nose at legal processes, particularly those that didn’t end up in its favour, such as the approval of the Trans Mountain expansion by the National Energy Board and then by the federal cabinet.
Anderson applauded Notley’s handling of the dispute, which he says lines up with the views and frustrations of the Alberta oil and gas industry and of Albertans generally.
He’s not keen on, however, Notley’s suggestion of cutting off Alberta’s oil exports to B.C. Many have mused such action would get the attention of British Columbians, who bash pipelines from Alberta while helping themselves to Alberta oil to fuel their cars, trucks and airplanes.
All Alberta oil to B.C. travels on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain system. The pipeline is a private company with obligations to shippers and “it would get very complicated if we were to restrict current movement to send a message to British Columbia,” he said. “That would not be something we would support or would advocate for and I don’t believe it’s something that we would even consider.”
The project is also moving toward resolution of all remaining legal challenges before federal and provincial courts, with decisions expected in the first half of the year, Anderson said.
It’s now up to the federal government to help get the project to the finish line by upholding its jurisdiction and taking any necessary actions with B.C., he said.
Until there is greater certainty, the project will not invest heavily in construction, which under the latest schedule is expected to start in late summer, with completion expected in December 2020, Anderson said.
“We have a few months of hard work ahead of us to get to a position of clarity and certainty,” he said. “I want the federal government to be with me in ensuring that that approval that they granted is sustainable and is going to be there right till the end.”