Federal decision to buy pipeline doesn't reduce spill risk, says B.C

Chad Hipolito  CANADIAN PRESS                       Attorney General David Eby looks on during a press conference at legislature in Victoria

Chad Hipolito CANADIAN PRESS Attorney General David Eby looks on during a press conference at legislature in Victoria

In a separate event, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced the federal government would use loan guarantees to ensure construction continues throughout the year.

Access to new oil markets was also key to Canada meeting its Paris climate target because Alberta - the nation's singled largest pollution emitter - agreed to take action against carbon emissions if it gained access to new markets for its oil.

Pressed about why the federal government's $4.5-billion price tag was so much lower than Kinder Morgan's stated $7.4-billion project value, Morneau said Ottawa was purchasing all the relevant assets - but he studiously avoided saying whether construction would increase costs.

"We are able to pursue this project with confidence, because we know that we are upholding the trust Canadians have placed in us to both grow our economy and protect our environment", Mourneau stated. Ottawa will buy the pipeline and all of Kinder Morgan's core assets for $4.5-billion, including pumping stations and rights of way along the route between Edmonton and Vancouver, as well as the marine terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia.

"We think obviously this is very constructive for Kinder and for Canada and clearly for Canadian producers in particular because it creates a lot of regulatory certainty over the time that the Trans Mountain expansion can get done", Katie Bays, an analyst with Height Securities in Washington said in a telephone interview.

"One who not only respects the rule of law, but who understands the challenges you are up against and will work with you to find solutions that work for everyone".

"This is a major step forward for all Canadians". "We said we would meet the deadline".

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"They have 10 to 20 years of firm commitment for shipments so from an investors perspective, there aren't too many projects like this that can provide that type of certainty in terms of cash flow over that period", said ARC Energy Research Institute senior director Jackie Forrest.

The plan - similar to how Canada financed and managed shares in General Motors and Chrysler in 2009 during the financial crisis - will include a new Crown corporation to manage the project. It's about the province's jurisdiction to regulate bitumen transport by pipeline, rail or road and B.C. lawyers have advised that it can proceed, he said.

"(The expansion project) went through extraordinary reviews and was approved by the government of Canada 18 months ago", he said.

The news came days ahead of a May 31 deadline set by Kinder Morgan Canada - the company stopped investor spending and suspended non-essential activities related to the project in an announcement on April 8. "But we will get there".

However, none of the protests or court cases to date resulted in injunctions that would stop work or a verdict to overturn any aspect of the 2016 TMEP approvals by the National Energy Board (NEB) and the federal cabinet.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long insisted the project is in Canada's national interest and is a pivotal part of the country's economic future. Canada has the world's third largest oil reserves but 99 percent of its exports now go to refiners in the USA, where limits on pipeline and refinery capacity mean Canadian oil sells at a discount. If Canada buys the pipeline, it will also acquire the personnel needed to continue with construction.

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