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Western oil heads east

UnknownThe first shipment of Alberta crude from British Columbia tidewater is on its way to the Irving Oil refining facility in Saint John. The route will take the Panama-flagged tanker, Cabo de Hornos, 11,900 kilometres from Burnaby, B.C. via the Panama Canal to New Brunswick.

The petroleum, sourced through Alberta energy company Cenovus, comes just two months after Irving announced it would seek greater Western Canadian resources for its East Coast facilities following the demise of the Energy East Pipeline project. The (CAN) $12 billion Energy East Pipeline was proposed by TransCanada (TC) Pipelines in 2013 and would have travelled 4,600 kilometres to points in Quebec and New Brunswick. If completed the line would have been among the world’s longest and would have carried 1 million barrels of Alberta and Saskatchewan crude per day. Following the election of the Trudeau government, the project was scrapped in 2017, leaving Eastern Canadian-based operators, such as Irving, to continue to source both refined and raw petroleum from the U.S. and other markets.

Now, using the Panama Canal route Irving will see the 229-metre Cabo de Hornos vessel arrive July 14 at refinery receiving docks in Saint John. After the Energy East Project was shelved, Irving approached the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) this spring (April) to ask for permission to use foreign tankers in an effort to increase the amount of domestic crude Irving gets from offshore Newfoundland and Western Canada. Approval was granted in May and Irving got busy making arrangements.

Irving has reported that it was importing the vast majority of its refinery inputs from sites in the U.S. and was using about 20% Canadian petroleum in its operations. In its application to the CTA Irving Oil stated that they sought to lessen their reliance on foreign petroleum at their Saint John facility, which is Canada’s largest refinery with a daily processing capacity of 320,000 barrels per day.

“It is critical to our customers, to our business, and to energy security throughout Atlantic Canada that we are able to use foreign crude oil tankers to access Western Canadian crude oil on an urgent basis and going forward for one year to allow for effective and flexible supply chain planning and to strengthen the link between Canadian oil producers and our refinery in this challenging and uncertain time,” said Irving Oil chief refining and supply officer Kevin Scott.

OCTANE editor Kelly Gray can be reached at Kgray@ensembleiq.com.


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Central Canada fuel security at risk

Just when Ontarians were getting used to the low price of gasoline (82.9 cents in Barry’s Bay to 100.7 cents in Oakville on June 30), a U.S. Judge has sent a shockwave through the supply chain that could see pump prices in Central Canada climb significantly.

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 4.14.38 PMLast week U.S. Circuit Court Judge, James Jamo, shut down the largest input to Ontario’s fuel sector when he ordered Enbridge’s Line 5 to stop operations by June 26.

Line 5 carries up to 540,000 barrels of light and synthetic crude as well as natural gas liquids to refinery sites in Sarnia where the vast majority of Ontario’s fuel is produced.

Judge Jamo’s decision ruled against the continued operation of Enbridge’s west line and prevented the comapany from restarting its east line.

Judge Jamo is supported by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, who both oppose the pipeline on the grounds that it constitutes a major environmental threat to the Great Lakes and should be shuttered permanently. Enbridge has suggested the move by Michigan is legally unsupportable and is proposing a US$500 million project to replace the line and enclose the segment that runs under the lakes in a tunnel. 

Line 5 delivers petroleum to seven refineries of which four are in Ontario (Imperial, Shell, Suncor). According to Imperial Oil spokesperson Jon Harding, the company’s two sites process 232,000 barrels a day, or about half the output of the Enbridge pipe. He says that a reduction in inputs from the pipeline would quickly impact Ontario motorists.  

“Reducing rates will likely result in shortfalls of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel in our distribution points in southern Ontario. That would happen within approximately a week,” according to Harding.

Line5_Map_Michigan_705xAt issue is the safety of Line 5, a system that was built in 1953. The Enbridge pipe runs along a 1,040-kilometre route through to Wisconsin and Michigan, where it channels under lakes Huron and Michigan for 7.2 kilometres before heading to refineries in Sarnia. It is this underwater section in the Straits of Mackinac that is a point of contention for environmental lobbyists that have been fighting for the closure of the pipeline for years.

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 4.15.22 PMThis most recent challenge to Line 5 came about following a survey where Enbridge discovered last week that a support anchor had shifted its position under the Strait. Enbridge shut down the operation and notified the state. Michigan followed up by filing for an injunction to shut Line 5 until the state had reviewed all the engineering data. Both sides are expected back in court this week.

OCTANE editor Kelly Gray can be reached at kgray@ensembleiq.com 


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Suncor defers Montreal refinery project to focus on low cost oilsands expansions

Suncor Energy Inc.’s on-again, off-again plan to add a coker unit to its Montreal refinery to allow it to process heavier barrels of oil, including oilsands bitumen, is off the table as it shuffles its spending priorities.

The $2-billion project has been shelved as the company focuses on low-cost oilsands expansions, projects that will help reduce emissions and cost-cutting digital technologies, CEO Mark Little said on a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter results.

Little said the company is listening to investors as it aims to generate more free cash flow while keeping spending in check.

“Some of the concern we see from the investors is, ‘Wow, you’re going to plow $2 billion into Montreal, are you sure?’,” he said.

“We spent a lot of time thinking about that and running all the analysis and concluded that actually wasn’t the prudent investment for the shareholder.”

Suncor also elected to defer sanctioning of its proposed 40,000-barrel-per-day Meadow Creek oilsands project, which would produce bitumen from wells, until 2023 at the earliest, Little said.

Instead, it will invest in boosting production from its existing similar Firebag facility to nameplate capacity of 203,000 bpd by 2021 and then potentially add 20,000-30,000 bpd by 2024-25.

It also plans to build lower-emission co-generation units at its Base Plant this year and begin construction of a $300-million wind power project in southern Alberta.

The Calgary-based energy giant reported a net loss of $2.3 billion for quarter ended Dec. 31 due mainly to asset impairment charges of $3.3 billion.

That includes $2.8 billion due to lower forecast prices for heavy oil from its Fort Hills oilsands mine in northern Alberta and $393 million linked to higher capital cost estimates for the West White Rose expansion project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, which is expected to begin producing oil in 2022.

Husky Energy Inc., which is the major owner and operator of the White Rose field, said its numbers align with those of Suncor.

“As indicated last year, we had some initial challenges with productivity at West White Rose, and we are now seeing good execution and are on track,” said Husky spokeswoman Kim Guttormson, who declined to give a detailed cost estimate for the expansion.

Suncor said it expects its share of production from the White Rose field will average about 8,700 bpd over its life and its share of future capital expenditures is about $1.4 billion.

Suncor shares fell by as much as 4.6% in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, although it announced an 11% increase in its quarterly dividend and a $2-billion extension of its program to buy back shares.

Analysts said its production results were generally in line, but misses on its operating and capital costs in the quarter were slightly negative.

Little also announced Suncor will file an application in the current quarter for a project to extend its base oilsands mine to a new area when its current resource is depleted in about 2035.

The project represents one of many options and wouldn’t be officially approved for at least a decade, he stressed.

“We feel that filing in 2020 is prudent under the current regulatory process, including the effects of the new (federal) assessment act, to ensure adequate time is provided for the regulatory process,” he said.

“Should we choose to extend the mine, the plan is to incorporate non-aqueous extraction technology which significantly reduces the costs and environmental impacts of mining oilsands versus our current operations.”

Suncor reported its MacKay River oilsands project, which produces about 30,000 bpd from wells, was shut down following an operational problem in December and is not expected back to be back on line until after March.

The outage won’t affect 2020 guidance for the company, Little said, because the loss of barrels can be counted under Alberta’s ongoing oil production curtailment program.


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Trans Mountain pipeline expansion cost jumps 70% to $12.6 billion

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Delays and design changes have driven the cost to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion up by about 70% to $12.6 billion from the $7.4 billion estimate made three years ago, the company says.

The project has cost about $2.5 billion to date, including the impact of delays and additional regulatory processes, leaving an additional $8.4 billion needed to complete construction, plus $1.7 billion of financial carrying costs, said president and CEO Ian Anderson on a conference call Feb. 7.

He said the project owned by the federal government is now expected to be in service by December 2022.

“It’s really important to know that the project that we’re all working on and building today is not the project that we originally envisioned and introduced early in 2012,” he said.

“Nor is it the one we last provided a cost estimate for in early 2017. It isn’t even the one we envisioned as early as 2018 when our ownership changed. It’s much, much more today.”

About half of the higher cost was caused by delays and the other half by scope changes such as adding thicker pipe in some areas and enhanced leak detection provisions, he said.

Anderson says the company is recommending that Ottawa, as owner and lender, set aside a further $600 million reserve for cost impacts beyond the control of Trans Mountain.

The estimate of $7.4 billion was made in 2017 by the previous owner, Houston-based Kinder Morgan, Inc., which sold the expansion project and existing pipeline to the federal government in 2018 for $4.5 billion amid doubts that it could be built in the face of opposition from the province of B.C.

Opponents have attacked the greenhouse gas emission and oil spill risks of the pipeline project but they’ve also charged it will be a money-loser trying to tap unproved markets in Asia and that it will fail financially and leave the public holding the bag.

The total cost of more than $17 billion is higher than feared and means it will be impossible for the federal government to sell it to a new owner as planned, said Sven Biggs, climate and energy campaigner for Stand.earth, in an interview on Friday.

“Any time a major project increases its cost by this much you have to hit the pause button and reconsider whether or not you’re still getting value for the taxpayer,” he said.

“My humble assessment is that, no, this project has never been in the interests of taxpayers. It was very difficult to justify it at $7 billion or $9 billion.”

But Anderson said it will be a money-maker right out of the gate.

“The cost of the project as you know is shared by Trans Mountain and our shippers and they will tell you that this continues to be a project they very much want and need, one that will bring benefits to all Canadians,” he said.

“The rate of return on this project is without question. The day we turn on the taps, it will start making money. It will make money every day through its contractual period of 20 years.”

He pointed out 80% of the space on the pipeline is contracted for 20 years to 13 clients including domestic oilsands producers like Suncor Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., as well as international firms such as Total S.A. and a subsidiary of PetroChina.

The federal government believes it is important to “make the necessary investments to open up new markets” for Canadian oil, said Finance Minister Bill Morneau in a statement on Friday.

“Safety and design enhancements have achieved a higher standard for environmental protection. It now supports more union jobs in B.C. and Alberta and is providing training opportunities. This is now a better project, moving forward in the right way,” he said.

Opponents of the pipeline expansion have vowed to do whatever it takes to stop the project despite losing a legal challenge before the Federal Court of Appeal earlier this week.

The four First Nations who lost the court challenge have 60 days to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The expansion project would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Edmonton and a shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C. to about 890,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen, lighter crudes and refined products.


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Former MP Nathan Cullen appointed B.C. liaison in pipeline dispute

imagesThe British Columbia government has appointed former New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen as a provincial liaison with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in an LNG pipeline dispute, a move welcomed by spokesmen for both the chiefs and the company.

Cullen represented Skeena-Bulkley Valley, a sprawling part of northern British Columbia that includes the Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, until last year when he decided not to seek re-election.

The premier’s office said Monday that Cullen will work with Wet’suwet’en leaders, the RCMP, Coastal GasLink, the provincial public sector and other parties.

Cullen will focus on de-escalating the conflict surrounding a court-ordered injunction regarding the company’s access to a forest service road outside of Houston.

“I’m pleased all parties have agreed to the appointment of a liaison,” Premier John Horgan said in a statement.

“Nathan has agreed to act as an intermediary in the hopes of finding a solution to this challenging dispute.”

The premier’s office said Cullen would not be available for an interview.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre route from northeastern B.C. to an export terminal in Kitimat but the hereditary clan chiefs say it has no authority without their consent.

Work on the project has been halted for about a month, since the court granted the injunction and the chiefs countered with an eviction notice to the company.

Supporters of the chiefs have since built a new encampment along the road toward the work site and felled trees along the road.

The RCMP have said patrol officers found stacked tires with jugs of accelerant and rags soaked in fuel nearby.

Na’moks, who is one of the five hereditary clan chiefs, said in an interview that Cullen is well informed and represented the community well in Parliament for 14 years.

“There is a level of trust that currently we don’t share with many current elected officials or former,” said Na’moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale.

“It gives me more confidence than the premier of the province.”

Horgan has said that the rule of law must be respected and that the project will be built, but has not met with the hereditary clan chiefs since this year’s impasse began.

Horgan offered to have a phone conversation and sent Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser for a meeting. But Na’moks said the chiefs were in a conflicting meeting at the time of Fraser’s visit, and they prefer face-to-face meetings with fellow decision-makers.

The Wet’suwet’en are a peaceful people but there’s no scenario where a resolution will also involve a pipeline through their territory, he said.

Coastal GasLink president David Pfeiffer said he’s pleased with Cullen’s appointment and remains hopeful the chiefs will meet with the company.

The dispute has not yet affected the project’s schedule and it remains on track for service in 2023, he said. He declined to say exactly when the impasse would begin affecting the schedule.

“We know that time is getting short according to our schedule and we will start seeing impacts at some point,” he said.

Before the eviction notice was issued, the company was in the process of dismantling a temporary work camp in the disputed area and building a larger one that would allow major construction to begin this summer.

About 500 workers were expected to work in the area over the next 18 months or so, he said.

Small local route changes are possible, like a 40-kilometre or so diversion already approved south of Houston, he said.

But a major reroute at this stage is not possible, Pfeiffer said, because the regulatory work required would have a “major scheduling impact.”

The challenging terrain created by the Coast Mountains means the planned route would have the lowest environmental impacts based on river crossings and other considerations, he added.

“Every pipeline that’s come along has looked through there because that is the area that is most technically viable,” Pfeiffer said.

The company’s focus is on reaching a peaceful resolution and avoiding enforcement of the injunction by the RCMP. If the chiefs consent to a meeting, Pfeiffer said the company would like to discuss possible benefits for the Wet’suwet’en members they represent, he said.

 


CEO Mary Moran of Calgary Economic Development

Western separatism, pipeline delays weigh on corporate mood at Alberta forum

Ongoing environmental criticism, delays in building oil pipelines and a surge of separatist sentiment following the last federal election are hurting Alberta’s reputation, presenters at a business forum in the Alberta mountain resort town of Lake Louise said Friday.

CEO Mary Moran of Calgary Economic Development

CEO Mary Moran of Calgary Economic Development

The rise of the western Canadian separation movement or “Wexit” cost Calgary an opportunity to attract a major technology head office, said CEO Mary Moran of Calgary Economic Development during a speech at the event.

“We as an organization just lost a 1,000-person company that didn’t come to Calgary, selected another city, because they’re concerned about Wexit,” she said. “So we need to tell a unified story about Calgary.”

The city was high on the unnamed firm’s shortlist of potential hosts until alarms were raised over Wexit, she said in an interview after the speech.

The company was also unhappy about the removal of some tech-friendly tax incentives in the United Conservative government’s recent provincial budget, she said.

The Canadian digital company can’t be identified because it has not yet announced the community that made the winning bid to host its new headquarters, said Moran.

Premier Jason Kenney, who also spoke at the event, said the only concern he’s hearing in meetings with investors in Houston and on Wall Street is about Canada’s inability to build pipelines to transport oil and gas to market.

“The main concern that I hear is about the lack of pipelines and market access for our energy that is the result of the foreign-funded campaign to landlock Alberta energy,” he told reporters.

“Our single greatest strategic interest is to get pipelines built and that will not happen unless we push back.”

Kenney’s government is “doing exactly what Albertans hired us to do,” he said, by launching a “fair deal” panel to look at establishing a provincial revenue agency, withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force.

Many Alberta CEOs in agriculture, energy, finance and transportation sectors agree Alberta’s image now is that of a province with a struggling economy, a declining and outdated industry, a lack of innovation and a fascination with separation, said Adam Legge, president of the recently formed Business Council of Alberta.

Those negative impressions are inaccurate, but they are having an effect, he said.

“(The CEOs) all say one thing. It is hard to attract people to Alberta because of its image. Our brand has taken a hit,” he said in a speech.

Albertans need to avoid the temptation to “wallow in uncertainty,” said Ed Sims, CEO of WestJet Airlines Ltd., in a speech that touched on the Calgary-based airline’s problems with competition, the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max planes and passenger rights legislation.

“The more we talk about uncertainty, the more we talk about tough times, the more we manifest that reality and it becomes our new reality,” he said.

 


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B.C. First Nations drop out of court challenge, sign deals with Trans Mountain 

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Two First Nations in British Columbia’s Interior that had been part of a court challenge against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion have reversed course and signed deals with the Crown corporation.

The Upper Nicola Band and Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc dropped out of the Federal Court of Appeal litigation, leaving four B.C. First Nations to fight the case.

The Upper Nicola says in a joint news release with Trans Mountain on Friday that its deal represents a “significant step forward” toward addressing environmental, archaeological and cultural heritage concerns.

It says the agreement provides resources to support its active involvement in emergency response and monitoring while also helping avoid and mitigate impacts on the band’s interests and stewardship areas.

A news release from Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc says its leadership came together and determined an agreement could be a tool used as part of a larger strategy to protect its cultural, spiritual and historical connections to the land.

Trans Mountain spokeswoman Ali Hounsell says the two bands dropped out of the court challenge last week after continued discussions with the corporation.

“The conversations we had, understanding what their concerns were, seeing where we could address them, ultimately led to their decision to withdraw their participation in the Federal Court of Appeal,” she says in an interview.

Upper Nicola Chief Harvey McLeod says in the news release the band’s negotiating team came up with the “best deal” possible under the circumstances.

“The bottom line is that the consultation process needs to change,” he says. “We still have a number of significant issues that must be addressed directly with Canada.”

The band continues to hold Canada to a consent-based approach consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he adds.

The four remaining Indigenous groups involved in the court challenge against Trans Mountain are the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations in Metro Vancouver, the Coldwater Indian Band in Merritt and a coalition of small First Nations in the Fraser Valley.

The court has ruled that upcoming arguments can only focus on whether the latest round of Indigenous consultation was adequate.

Last week, the Tsleil-Waututh and three environmental groups sought leave to appeal that ruling in the Supreme Court of Canada, claiming the Federal Court was wrong to refuse to hear arguments about the risk of an oil spill or threats to endangered southern killer whales.


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Trans Mountain received $320M in government subsidies in first half 2019: report

Unknown-2The Trans Mountain pipeline received $320 million in subsidies from the Canadian and Alberta governments in the first half of 2019, says a new report by an economic institute that analyzes environmental issues.

The money included $135.8 million in direct subsidies and $183.8 million in indirect subsidies that were not clearly disclosed to taxpayers, says the report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Unknown-3“This is a very large subsidy. It really does require more public discussion and public disclosure,” says Tom Sanzillo, the group’s director of finance.

Sanzillo and the report’s co-author, institute financial analyst Kathy Hipple, analyzed the second-quarter report of the Canada Development Investment Corp., a Crown corporation meant to further the country’s economic development that counts Trans Mountain Corp. among its subsidiaries.

The document is public but presents a consolidated picture of the development corporation’s finances, including revenues from the Canada Hibernia Holding Corp., which operates the Crown’s interest in oil reserves off Newfoundland and Labrador.

This accounting treatment obscures the real financial state of Trans Mountain, Sanzillo says.

“It’s a good form of accounting. I’m not criticizing it. It just shouldn’t be the only mechanism for showing the public how much money is being spent on this,” he says.

The Canadian government gave the development corporation just over $5 billion to finance the acquisition of Trans Mountain, the report says. Trans Mountain Corp. must make regular interest payments to the Canadian government at a rate of 4.7%.

The cash was provided to Trans Mountain in two sections: a $2.8 billion loan and a $2.3 billion equity investment. The interest on the loan must be paid from the pipeline’s business activity, while the interest on the equity investment can be paid from a third-party subsidy, the report says.

The Canada Hibernia Holding Corp. covered the interest on the equity investment for the first half of 2019, representing a direct subsidy of $46.3 million, the report says.

Trans Mountain posted a $10.9 million loss in this reporting period prior to taxes, the report says.

However, the loss is subsidized in the consolidated financial report by the Hibernia corporation’s earnings, amounting to another $10.9-million direct subsidy, the report says.

Sanzillo also says the development corporation uses an “accounting gimmick” to obscure Trans Mountain’s pension liability of $24.4 million. This is one more direct subsidy, he says.

Finally, the Alberta government reduced corporate taxes through a tax credit starting in January 2019. This policy action allowed TransMountain to save $54.1 million in taxes, yet another direct subsidy that the development corporation uses to turn the corporation’s pre-tax loss into a post-tax gain, according to the report.

Sanzillo also identifies what he calls an indirect subsidy; the difference between the interest a private company would have charged TransMountain versus the rate charged by the Canadian government.

Canada’s 4.7% interest rate stands in contrast with the 12 to 15% rate of return used by its former owner, Kinder Morgan, the report says.

Sanzillo used the lower figure, 12%, to calculate that a private company would have charged Trans Mountain $302.1 million in interest in the first half of 2019. The Canadian government, meanwhile, charged it $118.3 million.

That amounts to an indirect subsidy of $183.8 million for the first six months of the year, according to the report.

The report authors acknowledge that the Canadian government does not have to adhere to commercial standards.

“(The report) is about transparency and not meant to be a legal challenge to the right of the Canadian government to subsidize the pipeline project. It is a matter of dollars at risk that the Canadian taxpayer might absorb,” it says.

When the authors added the $46.3-million interest payment and the $24.4-million pension expense back to Trans Mountain’s financials, they concluded the pipeline corporation had a $67.1-million pre-tax loss and a $12.9 million loss after taxes.

The Canadian government plans to ultimately sell the pipeline. If it does so for a lower price than it paid for the infrastructure, it can legally forgive any debt that is left over, Sanzillo adds.

The Canadian Press was unable to reach out to the Department of Finance and Trans Mountain Corp. for reaction until the group’s report was published Tuesday morning.


No pipeline fireworks as Western premiers emerge from annual meeting in Edmonton

There were smiles, handshakes and even a joke or two as Canada’s western premiers emerged from their day-long meeting in Edmonton last Thursday.

There has been friction between the leaders of late over British Columbia’s opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which would carry more Alberta oil to the West Coast.

Both B.C. Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said their positions on the project didn’t change following the talks.

Thursday was the first time the two leaders met face to face and the meeting came a week after the federal government approved the controversial project for a second time.

But there were no fireworks at the closing news conference like at last year’s meeting, when the pipeline issue led then-Alberta premier Rachel Notley to opt out of signing a final statement for reporters.

Instead, the premiers found common ground on issues such as trade corridors and recognizing professional credentials from province to province.

“We spent a lot of time working together on a statement that finds common ground,” Kenney said. “It frankly meant that we didn’t all get what we would like. Premier Horgan wasn’t going to agree to endorse the TMX expansion, for example.

“So, obviously there were some differences.”

Kenney restated that Alberta is prepared to use provincial legislation to limit oil and gas exports to any province he sees as standing in the way of pipelines – a so-called turn-off-the-taps law.

Horgan said his government will push ahead with a legal challenge of that law, as well as a reference to the Supreme Court on whether the federal government had the constitutional jurisdiction to approve the pipeline expansion.

But there were few jabs thrown.

Horgan even made a joke about being the lone New Democrat at the table with Kenney, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister, all leaders of conservative governments.

“I wore a blue suit so I could blend in,” he said as Kenney laughed.

Pallister went into the meeting hoping his western counterparts would unite against Quebec’s law banning civil servants from wearing religious symbols, but the item did not make it on the formal agenda of the meeting.

Pallister said he wouldn’t give up the fight.

“Manitoba remains very concerned about anything that interferes with our ability to celebrate as a country the diversity that’s a reality here,” he said.

“I’m a farm boy and I don’t like erosion. And I certainly am always concerned about the erosion of rights in our country. So I’ll continue to have that view and I’ll continue to express it.”

 


Regulator seeks opinions on Trans Mountain pipeline process resumption

The National Energy Board has issued a certificate for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion after it was approved by Ottawa last week, but is seeking input from affected parties and the public on its resumption of regulatory processes.

The federal regulator says it will accept public comments online or via fax or mail until July 5, and has set a deadline for initial company comment of next Friday, with reply comments due on July 9.

It is proposing to continue processes that were underway and to rely on decisions and orders issued before the Federal Court of Appeal struck down federal approval of the project last August, “unless relevant circumstances have materially changed.”

Ian Anderson, CEO of the Crown corporation building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, said shovels could be in the ground by September and oil could be flowing in new segments of the pipeline between Edmonton and the West Coast by mid-2022.

But that timeline depends on the NEB being able to reinstate the record from the previous regulatory proceedings so that the project can be brought back to the same state of construction readiness as last summer, he said, a process he expected to take some weeks.

The NEB says it wants to provide clarity on next steps for the project as efficiently as possible.

“Following the comment period, the NEB will decide how the regulatory processes will resume. Until that decision is made, Trans Mountain cannot rely on previously issued decisions and orders to start or resume project construction,” it said in a statement.