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

Trudeau government to buy troubled Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion

Trudeau government to buy troubled Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion

Calling a controversial pipeline expansion "a vital project in the national interest", Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is buying the Trans Mountain pipeline to ensure that the expansion is built, despite protests from environmentalists and other groups.

The only studies that say the Trans Mountain pipeline will make money for the Canadian economy are reports paid for by Kinder Morgan.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has proposed sacrificing Canadian taxpayers to bail out an uneconomic USA pipeline owned by former Enron executives.

That's not to say that history will continue to repeat itself, but if the feds can push this project to completion and get the oil flowing and the tankers moving, the Government of Canada will have the option of selling their stake for billions more than what they paid for it or continuing to own it and collecting the significant annual royalties.

Ottawa will take over the expansion and the existing pipeline and assets in a deal that will see Kinder Morgan immediately begin construction.

The purchase will be financed by Export Development Canada and includes; the pipeline, pumping stations, the marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C. and rights of way along the pipeline between Edmonton and Vancouver.

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Ottawa has the constitutional authority to build interprovincial projects like pipelines, but B.C. Premier John Horgan has gone to court to get a judge to weigh in on whether B.C.'s jurisdiction for the environment would allow him to regulate what flows through the pipeline.

CIBC slashed its 12-month price target to $17 from $22 because of its lower expectations of future growth in revenue and dividends for Kinder Morgan shareholders.

"While these are exceptional circumstances, we are pleased that the Trans Mountain Expansion project will proceed, beginning this construction season", spokesperson Alita Fabiano said in a statement.

He said it threatens Canada's reputation as a safe place to invest, puts thousands of jobs at risk and holds back Canada's economic growth. "We support improving market access to ensure Canada achieves fair recognition and full value for its energy resources".

The ad appeared following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement that the federal government will spend $4.5-billion to buy out the pipeline. "Horgan and the NDP will continue to play politics with British Columbia's future, and this time it will cost us billions".

The rationale for the pipeline's construction is to secure access to an overseas export market for Canada's oil producers.

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The decision caused outrage in parliament because if the government cannot find new investors, it would be down to taxpayers to take on the cost of the project, which Kinder Morgan considered abandoning if the federal government could not guarantee it would go ahead despite opposition from British Columbia.

"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.

"If you look at the major energy projects that we've had in this country over many years, they've all involved government investment at some point or another". The company said it would decide on the pipeline project's fate on 31 May.

And the Opposition Conservatives were livid at the prospect of nationalizing a private-sector asset.

The issue has divided two Canadian provinces, pitting Alberta's government against leaders in British Columbia.

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