Canada to buy Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline

Vaughn Palmer

Vaughn Palmer Published

The deal was announced days before Kinder Morgan's May 31 deadline on whether they would proceed with the project and May said the company played their hand very well. "We have met the deadline", she tweeted.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the Canadian economy needs access to foreign markets and without projects like Trans Mountain, the economy is out as much as $30 million (USD) per day.

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".

Canada first offered this month to indemnify the expansion project before announcing Tuesday's plan.

However, the premier said she could not provide any more information at this point about what circumstances would lead the government to pony up pipeline cash.

Facing stiff environmental opposition from British Columbia's provincial government and activists, Houston-based Kinder Morgan earlier halted essential spending on the project and said it would cancel it altogether if the national and provincial governments could not guarantee it. The project has been beset by legal uncertainty and rising protests from environmental groups and the province of British Columbia.

After the federal government's announcement, Kean said the work would be restarted soon, with the government funding construction.

The Canadian pipeline industry welcomed news Tuesday that the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline is more likely to be built, but expressed grave misgivings over the federal government's decision to buy both the expansion and the existing line in order to achieve that goal.

The Trans Mountain expansion would nearly triple capacity to 890,000 bbl of oil on a line running from Alberta to a terminal near Vancouver. "We haven't been provocative", Horgan said.

Asked if nationalizing the pipeline gives Ottawa more power over the provinces' abilities to block it, May said it already came under federal jurisdiction.

Once the sale is complete, Canada will continue the construction on its own, with a view to eventually selling the whole thing down the road, once market conditions would allow it to get the best price.

Kinder Canada Chief Executive Officer Steven Kean said on a conference call the company hasn't yet decided how it will use the proceeds from the sale and it will consider options including acquisitions and stock buybacks.

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.

McMillan stressed the need to prevent project overruns due to continued political opposition and praised Ottawa's plan to find a buyer for the pipeline. During or following construction of the expanded pipeline, which is expected to take about 2.5 years to complete, Canada will monitor the markets and seek out future investors interested in taking on the entire project once it is done.

"John Horgan picked a fight with Alberta and provoked a constitutional crisis with Ottawa over this project and this is now the embarrassing result", Wilkinson said.

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