Kinder pipeline battle spirals as Alberta halts power-deal talks

Kevin Orland and Natalie Obiko Pearson February 02, 2018

CALGARY and VANCOUVER (Bloomberg) -- Alberta is striking back at British Columbia after the neighboring Canadian province proposed restricting shipments of oil-sands crude in a bid to halt Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain project.

Premier Rachel Notley is suspending talks about increasing power purchases from British Columbia that could have resulted in Alberta buying as much as C$500 million ($410 million) more of electricity a year from B.C., she said at a press conference in Edmonton on Thursday. Low natural gas prices make Alberta “quite able” to manage its electricity needs on its own, she said.

Notley’s move marks an escalation of the battle over Kinder Morgan’s plan to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline, a C$7.4 billion project that would carry an additional 590,000 bpd of crude from the oil sands to a shipping terminal near Vancouver.

The project has the support of the federal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said earlier on Thursday that the pipeline will get built. Notley is demanding that B.C. drop its proposed restrictions on crude shipments and said she’s considering other legal actions against the province, without describing them.

“This is just the first step,” Notley said. “In the coming days and weeks, there may be more. We are prepared to do what it takes to get this pipeline built, whatever it takes.”

British Columbia’s environment ministry, which announced the bitumen-restriction proposal, referred to comments from the province’s premier, John Horgan, that were broadcast by Global TV.

“We believe we have every right to protect our marine environment and economy,” Horgan said. “I am surprised by the response we are getting from Alberta.”

Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd, argued the project benefits all Canadians, including local and Aboriginal communities, by giving the country’s resources access to global markets.  “The Trans Mountain Expansion Project has been deemed to be in the national interest and we appreciate the Government of Canada, Premier Notley and the many individuals and organizations who have voiced their support over the last few days and stood up for the Project."

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