Kinder Morgan suspends work on Trans Mountain pipeline amid B.C. opposition

Kinder Morgan says it will consult with “various stakeholders” to try and reach an agreement by May 31.

As hundreds of opponents of the Trans Mountain Pipeline celebrate the company’s decision to halt non-essential work on the project, Kinder Morgan’s CEO says he is open to discussing an investment in its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by the Alberta government if there’s clear assurance that the project can actually be completed.

Kinder Morgan has set a May 31 deadline for talks with “various stakeholders” to reach an agreement that could allow the project to proceed. Shares in the company fell as much as 15 per cent but regained some of the losses and were down about eight per cent in mid-afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

CEO Steve Kean said on a conference call Monday that he’s open to Notley’s suggestion, but there needs to be a clear political signal that there won’t be additional delays to the project.

“There’s no magic formulation that’s been articulated by anyone, to us. This is what we’ll be devoting some attention to in the coming weeks,” Kean said.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley suggested Sunday the province could invest in the project to ensure it goes forward after the company said it has suspended all non-essential activities and related spending on the pipeline expansion that would carry Alberta bitumen to an export terminal near Vancouver.

Kinder Morgan said it will consult with “various stakeholders” to try and reach an agreement by May 31 that might allow the project to proceed.

The move will be seen as a blow to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has insisted that the pipeline would be built, despite the angry protests and the B.C. government’s continued battle against the project in the courts.

The expansion, which would triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., was approved by the federal government in 2016.

Kinder Morgan has spent about $1.1 billion on the $7.4-billion project so far.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan is pursuing a reference case in the courts to determine if his government can control the shipment of oil through the province on environmental grounds.

The federal government put pressure on B.C. Premier John Horgan to back away from his opposition to the project, with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr describing it as “crucial” to expanding Canada’s export markets for its natural resources while creating thousands of jobs.

“The government of Canada calls on Premier Horgan and the B.C. government to end all threats of delay to the Trans Mountain expansion,” Carr said in a news release. “His government’s actions stand to harm the entire Canadian economy.”

Carr said under Canadian law, Ottawa has the jurisdiction to approve the project.

“We are determined to find a solution,” he added. “With all our partners, we continue to consider all available options. As our prime minister has said, this pipeline will be built.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that it is possible to balance the interests of both the economy and the environment in pushing for the pipeline’s expansion.

“We have to make sure that the balance is right, that we’re still globally competitive – and competitiveness is something this government will always focus on – but we also shouldn’t be part of a race to the bottom of trying to cut standards and pollute more just for the short term,” said Trudeau who is on a tour of Northern Alberta.

Opponents of the project are still holding camp outside the company’s Burnaby Terminal and say they are not going anywhere until the project is cancelled.


— with files from the Canadian Press

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