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Canada Buys Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline, To Ensure It Gets Expanded

31 May 2018

Following the news Tuesday morning that the Canadian government has purchased the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline for a whopping $4.5 billion, Castanet hit the streets to find out how Okanagan residents feel about it.

Shopping for a buyer.

Under the plan, revealed Tuesday by federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Kinder Morgan will go ahead with its original plan to twin the pipeline this summer while the sale is finalized. But $4.5 billion won't cover the future construction costs.

It could look at buying Western Canada natural gas plants now being marketed by Enbridge Inc. with the cash its getting from the sale, he said, while noting Kinder Morgan has also suggested it may distribute cash to shareholders. The final sale - either to the Canadian government another owner - would need to be approved by the company's Canadian shareholders.

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The purchase price includes most of Kinder Morgan Canada's core assets - the existing pipeline, the pumping stations and rights of way, and the Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C. Federal loan guarantees of an undisclosed amount will ensure that construction continues throughout the 2018 season. That would be several hundred people ranging from executives and managers to construction employees. This move sets a bad precedent and signals to other prospective investors that large projects such as pipelines can not be built by private industry in Canada.

"Trudeau had promised during the election that he would create a new environmental process that would protect Indigenous rights and that the Kinder Morgan project would be included and sent back to be done through the new process, and on both those counts he's failed completely", he said. Its expansion is a key part of Canada's effort to boost oil exports to Asian markets - but the plan has been protested by indigenous groups and environmental activists, who warn of the risks of a spill and the hazards of increased petroleum tanker traffic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said that the pipeline will get built, and now it's entirely on him to get the job done. But the Liberal government has cash, jurisdictional sovereignty (probably), limited Crown immunity, buildings full of lawyers, and the benefit of a majority of its population who support the project. It continues with "The vintage pipeline is a handyman's dream project".

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told reporters that pipeline projects are not straight forward. It has full regulatory, legislative, financial and political backing of the highest level of government, and will ultimately be returned to the private sector where it belongs. The project has been held up by local resistance, and Kinder Morgan announced in April that it would halt spending on the project due to opposition from British Columbia's provincial government.

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The main opposition Conservative party is becoming more competitive in polls, and even took the lead in one Nanos Research survey released on Tuesday, which showed Conservatives at 36 percent public support and the Liberals at 33 percent.

For those opposed to the pipeline twinning, including Indigenous leaders and environmentalists, the bailout probably came as a "big surprise, if not a shock", he said. Those costs would be covered either directly or indirectly through reimbursement by the Canadian taxpayer.

Were that court challenge to be dropped, it would remove a lot of the risk that has made the project so unattractive to the private sector.

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Canada Buys Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline, To Ensure It Gets Expanded