Published: Thu, May 31, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Trans Mountain pipeline will have 'Crown immunity': Notley

Trans Mountain pipeline will have 'Crown immunity': Notley

"We said we would get the pipeline built and we are getting it built", she said, flanked by her celebratory caucus at a Tuesday news conference overlooking the Alberta Legislature.

The Canadian government plans to sell the project - the existing line and its expansion - as soon as is reasonable once it's guaranteed that it will be built, the person said. "We have met the deadline", she tweeted.

Up to C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) more public money has also been committed by the Alberta government as an emergency fund to cover unpredictable expenses to complete the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP).

In an emailed statement late Monday, the Calgary-based company said it didn't intend to issue updates "unless and until these discussions have concluded or we've reached an agreement that satisfies our two objectives: clarity on the path forward, particularly with respect to the ability to construct through British Columbia, and ensuring adequate protection of our KML shareholders".

"The federal government has responded and that's their business". After that, the oil giant was considering pulling the plug on the project altogether.

But Morneau said the Alberta-British Columbia feud - which led Alberta to boycott British Columbia wines and threaten to cut the neighboring provinces fuel supplies - "cannot be allowed to fester".

Premier John Horgan told media Tuesday that Ottawa's decision doesn't change a thing about the concerns of his government, and he's still anxious about a catastrophic spill.

"It does change it from a federally approved project to a federally undertaken project, but the reference case ... did not speak to a specific project", he explained.

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Horgan said he's anxious about the "catastrophic consequences" should there be a spill, regardless of the owner, and will continue to fight it in court.

"We need to deal with the political uncertainty", he said.

Notley had a different take - that Horgan's government has been deliberately harassing the project. "We do not believe that this outcome will instill investor confidence in Canada".

"On this critical question, the federal government is completely accountable and I think at the end of the day that is probably a good thing", he added.

He said the pipeline purchase provided the federal jurisdiction needed to overcome British Columbia's opposition, but did not say how it could force the province to allow construction.

"I can't walk out of my office or have a beer with someone where a conversation around this doesn't occur", said Rafi Tahmazian, senior portfolio manager at Canoe Financial, which manages shares of several Canadian oil producers.

Morneau's announcement immediately prompted more protest vows to resist the project in the name of preventing offshore oil spills and stopping thermal tar sands production blamed for increasing Canadian carbon emissions.

Notley admitted "you're never going to get 100 per cent consensus" on the pipeline, but discussions with Indigenous communities have been part of the process since the beginning.

Federal government spending $4.5B to buy Trans Mountain pipeline, BC terminal
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said purchasing the pipeline was the only way to ensure that a planned expansion could proceed. The Texas-based pipeline company structured deals in such a way that it couldn't lose, even if the project stalled.


However, the minister also said if Kinder Morgan were to walk away from the pipeline, there are other investors willing to step in.

Once the sale is complete later this summer, Canada will continue construction on its own.

The company halted all non-essential spending on the pipeline expansion in April pending reassurances from Ottawa that the project would come to fruition.

Notley said Tuesday that the federal decision would "unlock" investment in the oilpatch.

Export Development Canada will finance the purchase, which includes the pipeline, pumping stations and rights of way along the route between Edmonton and Vancouver, as well as the marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C., where oil is loaded onto tankers for export. The proposal is to run the pipeline parallel to the existing one that runs between Edmonton and Burnaby to increase capacity nearly three fold.

"I think the transaction is a win-win".

Notley said it's unlikely her government would enact landmark legislation passed earlier this month to turn off the taps to B.C.

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