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Kinder Morgan presses on with review process while waiting on word from Ottawa

CALGARY – Kinder Morgan gave its final arguments for the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion Thursday but still doesn’t know what changes are in store from the new federal government.

Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, said in a conference call he appreciates that federal ministers have given reassurance that projects won’t go back to square one in the National Energy Board review, but he is still waiting to hear details of any potential changes to the process.

“They’ve said there will be a transition period and all projects will be reviewed and considered for some transition treatment. We don’t know what that means yet. We don’t know what that will do to our process,” said Anderson.

In Vancouver, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that he plans to restore trust in the pipeline review process, claiming Canadians have lost faith that their government is looking out for their long-term best interest.

“The one thing that we made very,very clear was there needs to be social licence, there needs to be public trust before projects like these can go ahead,” Trudeau said.

“We need to be consulting with communities, we need to be partnering with indigenous peoples, we need to be reassuring Canadians that the science and the environmental impacts and the risks are being properly monitored so that any project is truly in the best interest of Canadians.”

Anderson said Kinder Morgan is following a rigorous review process, having already received 145 conditions in draft form in September and five more this week that it has to meet.

“All conditions are achievable. They’re rigorous, they will take some work, they’re comprehensive, but we recognize the necessity of them to deliver a project that meets the broad public interest,” he said.

In presenting its final oral arguments to the National Energy Board on Thursday, the company outlined a project that it says will provide an additional $73.5 billion in revenues to petroleum producers and will yield $28.2 billion in additional tax revenues and royalties to Canadians.

The energy board will next hear oral summary arguments from interveners in January and February and is scheduled to make its recommendations to the federal cabinet on May 20, 2016. The cabinet then has three months to make its decision on the project.

The US$5.4-billion Trans Mountain project would nearly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline that runs from around Edmonton to the Vancouver area to 890,000 barrels a day.

The project has faced opposition from environmental groups, First Nations and communities in the B.C. Lower Mainland over concerns of potential pipeline leaks and increased oil tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet.