Feds Will Talk To Kinder Morgan About Aid To Solve Crisis

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-with files from Richard Macedo

The federal government will talk to Kinder Morgan Canada Limited about possible financial aid to end a crisis over the Trans Mountain expansion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday.

Trudeau spoke after an emergency meeting with the premier of British Columbia, John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, this morning in Ottawa.

Kinder Morgan Canada is threatening to abandon the project unless it receives sufficient clarity about the path ahead by May 31.

Both the federal and Alberta governments have already suggested they could take a stake in the project.

“I have instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan, the result of which will be to remove the uncertainty overhanging the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project,” Trudeau said.

“We will not have these discussions in public. But construction will go ahead.

“I have also informed premiers Notley and Horgan today that we are actively pursuing legislative options that will assert and reinforce the Government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter, which we know we clearly have.”

Notley perspective

Notley said her government will move ahead this week with plans to introduce measures to continue its fight back against B.C.’s continued defiant stance toward the Trans Mountain expansion project.

“What we look forward to doing this week is introducing to our legislature legislation that will give Alberta the authority to strategically deploy the export of its resources in a way that gets the best return for Albertans and maximizes the prices that we can receive,” she said.

“So that legislation will be coming this week and we look forward to giving more detail on it when that happens.

Notley confirmed that her government along with its federal counterparts have “commenced discussion” with Kinder Morgan to establish a financial relationship that “will eliminate” investor risk.

“I’m quite confident that should these discussions end successfully that the pipeline will be built. And that is good because the project is in the national interest. That’s why Alberta has, and our government has from the very start been fighting for this pipeline,” she said.

“I’m quite confident that the nature of the conversation that we are having at this point will get the job done in terms of eliminating the uncertainty that’s caused the May 31 deadline and I’m confident that it will be done.”

That said, Notley said the Kinder Morgan-imposed deadline is looming and decisions need to be made.

“At the end of the day one of the conversations that we had today was there is a May 31 deadline. But we all knew that there were going to have to be significant decisions to move the project forward this summer—spring, summer, early fall,” she said.

“So the deadline May 31 is there but it’s a deadline, frankly, that those of us who are very engaged in making sure that this pipeline got built were already aware [of].”

Notley said the participants in the meeting had little discussion about the Horgan government still planning on moving forward with its previously announced legal measures.

“There was nothing like that,” she said.

Notley did, however, offer strong words of her opinion of the B.C. government’s stance.

“I think for the most part what we’ve been seeing from the government of B.C. has been a very considered attempt to create uncertainty by coming up with creative areas to inject a certain amount of legal debate,” she said.

“I don’t believe that it was in the best interests of the country to engage in esoteric jurisdictional debates with the purposes of harassing a project to death, which in effect I think is what’s been happening up to this point.”

Notley remains confident that the project will get built and that investor confidence in Canada will be repaired through the actions of both the Alberta and federal governments.

“At the end of the day one of the messages that will be sent to investors is that when the federal government makes a decision that is in the national best interest to approve a piece of infrastructure that is critical to an overall industry the size, depth and breadth of Canada’s energy industry that investors can know that decision will in fact be implemented,” she said.

Continue to disagree on question of moving diluted bitumen: Horgan

Horgan was the first to speak following the meeting of the three leaders. He said: “We continue to disagree on the question of moving diluted bitumen from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver.

“We had a discussion about options, [and] the federal government laid out their plans [they have coming] over the next number of days,” he added.

Horgan said there may be an opportunity to have officials “address some of the gaps that we perceive to be in the Ocean Protection Plan, however we remain committed to ensuring that we’re protecting our jurisdiction in this regard.”

There were no details on what gaps the B.C. premier believes exist in the Ocean Protection Plan.

Horgan added: “[Trudeau] said that the federal government will be moving with legislative and financial measures in the days ahead … he didn’t go into the detail with me, he laid out in broad strokes what their plans were.”

He said he would abide by court rulings on the project.

“Should the courts render a decision that’s counter to our position, then that’s the way it should be,” said Horgan. The reference question the province is preparing “has just taken more time than any of us would have hoped.

“Our legal team had to clear their calendars … it takes a little bit of time, you can’t do it over a weekend and I would have preferred  if it was done a month ago and I’m hopeful it will be done in the next number of days.”