Notley Sees Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Needing New Port

  • Line expansion may need to end farther south of Vancouver
  • New port could help overcome opposition to line in Burnaby

Kinder Morgan Inc. may need to shift its Trans Mountain pipeline to a different port in British Columbia to win over opponents to the conduit’s expansion, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.

It may be better for the line, which currently goes through the city of Burnaby in Greater Vancouver, to terminate farther south, Notley said Wednesday at Bloomberg LIVE’s Canadian fixed income conference in New York.

“There are different places and you have to be creative,” she said. A port to the south of Vancouver near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and the U.S. border might be one possibility, she said. “The vast majority of that pipeline has the support of the communities through which it runs.”

Notley is backing the Trans Mountain expansion and TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East project to the Atlantic Coast, among four major export proposals, as she seeks new markets for Alberta’s oil. She is less keen on TransCanada’s Keystone XL line to ship crude to the Gulf Coast and is opposed to Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway to the port of Kitimat on the Pacific.

“Trans Mountain is confident that expanding our existing facilities is the best option, and the one we chose to pursue,” Ali Hounsell, a Kinder Morgan spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. She referred to regulatory filings in which the company outlined having studied different terminal locations that it said would lead to larger environmental impacts, compared with expanding its existing facilities.

Environmental Concerns

The Canadian energy industry is struggling to get new pipelines built to transport rising output from Alberta’s oil sands as opponents raise concerns about carbon emissions from crude extraction and the risk of spills. Producers are turning to more expensive trains and expansions of existing systems while they endure price discounts for their crude because output is exceeding pipeline capacity.

In an interview, Notley said she’s meeting privately with political leaders, pipeline companies and environmental groups to win support for Trans Mountain and Energy East, while crafting climate policies to try to sway critics of the conduits.

“We’re having some good conversations on a very low-drama level and we’ll keep that up and start to get to some more definitive outcomes,” Notley said. “I can begin a slightly new conversation with some of those opponents about what we’re doing on climate change, about what we’re doing to clean up our act.”

‘Political Football’

Notley’s New York visit was part of an economic tour that also took her to Montreal, where she didn’t publicly mention the Energy East pipeline that would cross the French-speaking province of Quebec. Energy East shouldn’t become a “political football,” she said.

The premier said she isn’t backing Keystone XL because it would keep Alberta reliant on the U.S. while not boosting oil upgrading and refining in the province. She has previously said she won’t promote Northern Gateway because of its controversial path through British Columbia and lack of local support. Keystone XL has been under review by the U.S. for seven years and faces criticism from President Barack Obama, while Northern Gateway continues to come up against opposition from aboriginal groups.

“The ones that I think have the most potential, although are not still without their opponents, are Trans Mountain and Energy East,” Notley said, while construction of Keystone XL is “not the most likely outcome.”

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