Kinder Morgan ‘Closer’ to Meeting British Columbia’s Conditions

Kinder Morgan Inc. is “a lot closer” to meeting British Columbia’s conditions for the company’s Trans Mountain crude oil pipeline expansion, Energy Minister Bill Bennett said.

“They’re working very hard,” Bennett said in an interview in Calgary. “And frankly, they’re going to get there.”

Kinder Morgan in May won approval from Canada’s National Energy Board to expand the Trans Mountain line, subject to 157 conditions. The final green light for the oil conduit now rests with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government has said it will make a decision by the end of the year.

At the same time, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has said oil pipelines, including Trans Mountain, must satisfy conditions such as providing the province with economic benefits, a vigorous spill response plan and addressing aboriginal rights. Local and provincial government opposition to Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway line has hampered the company’s ability to make a final investment decision.

Canada’s oil industry has turned its eye to the Trans Mountain expansion, which already ships Alberta crude to the port of Vancouver, as well as TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East after Keystone XL was rejected by President Barack Obama last year. 

The main outstanding issue for Kinder Morgan is marine spill response, something in which the federal government has an important role to play, Bennett said.

“I wouldn’t characterize the province’s position as opposition,” the minister said. “We’re all Canadians. It’s good for Canada.”

Kinder Morgan plans to almost triple Trans Mountain’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day. The system, in operation since 1953, is the only pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Coast and unique in connecting the oil sands directly to shore to reach markets outside North America. Requests by producers to ship on the line regularly exceed its capacity.

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