April 16 (UPI) — Estimating that billions of dollars may be at risk for the economy, Alberta’s premier offered a financial life line for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.
After spending more than $850 million since it petitioned federal regulators for the project, pipeline company Kinder Morgan last week said that opposition to its plans to triple the design capacity for its Trans Mountain network to the western coast of Canada exposed its shareholders to undue risk.
Speaking during the weekend, Alberta Premier Rachel Notely said not moving ahead with the project was costing the Canadian economy around $30 million (USD) every day.
“This is why we have to act and it is why we are acting,” she said through Twitter. “The federal government and the government of Alberta have commenced discussions with Kinder Morgan to establish a financial arrangement that will eliminate investor risk.”
Even before Kinder Morgan expressed apprehension, Alberta’s government estimated that pipeline projects like Trans Mountain could stimulate economic growth by as much as 2 percent by 2023.
Nearly all of the exported Canadian oil heads south to the United States and the expansion of Trans Mountain would help break a North American land lock. With North American crude oil production increasing, meanwhile, the industry has turned to rail to take up the slack from saturated pipeline networks. More than 40 people died in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in 2013 when a train carrying oil derailed and exploded.
British Columbia’s government and regional leaders have been staunch opponents of a project that would lead to an increase in oil flow, storage tanks and tanker traffic off of Canada’s coast. Notley’s counterpart in British Columbia, John Horgan, vowed to do his part to protect the regional environment and local economies.
Horgan and Notely met during the weekend with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The prime minister’s office had no public statement on Trans Mountain.
Kinder Morgan said it still felt the expansion project was a national interest and would consult with stakeholders on how to proceed. If it can’t reach an agreement by May 31st, it will likely scrap the project.