CALGARY – The CEO of oilsands giant Suncor Energy Inc. says he’s confident new oil pipelines will be built after hosting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at its newly opened Fort Hills oilsands mine in early April.
The message he left with Trudeau was that pipeline access must be assured if the industry is to attract the capital it needs to grow, Steve Williams said on a conference call on Wednesday.
“We don’t want these new projects to have to bear the burden of some of these (oil price) differentials,” he said, reiterating Suncor’s commitment to building no new major oilsands projects without new pipelines.
“The simple measure will be we want to see shovels in ground and pipelines being built.”
His comments came the same day First Nations chiefs from Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia held a news conference in which they vowed to resort to large-scale civil disobedience if Kinder Morgan’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast goes ahead without the consent of local First Nations.
The Trans Mountain pipeline is a hot issue in western Canada as two premiers threaten one another with a trade war, while hundreds of people have been arrested while protesting the expansion of the 1,150 km project.
On Wednesday, the Treaty Alliance Against Expansion of the Tar Sands held a news conference to talk about the Trans Mountain expansion.
In a release sent later in the day, the group says First Nations cannot be bribed into signing onto these kinds of projects.
“If we cannot have a say as to what goes on in our territories, free from economic coercion and threats, particularly in the case of dangerous projects like Kinder Morgan, Canada cannot say that it respects the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band, which is part of the Secwepemc Nation in B.C. whose territory much of the pipeline would need to pass through.
According to the release, the Treaty Alliance is also calling for an independent investigation into the project’s approval process.
But Williams said he’s “greatly encouraged” by what Alberta and federal governments are saying recently and believes even the Trans Mountain expansion project will be built, despite proponent Kinder Morgan threatening to abandon it if it isn’t reassured about its construction by the end of May.
Later, on the sidelines of Suncor’s annual general meeting, Williams said he hopes that “good sense and reason prevail” but added Suncor has a contingency plan in case Alberta follows through with its plan to restrict oil or refined fuel exports through the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to B.C.
Also on the call, Williams said he also believes Enbridge Inc.’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project into the U.S. Midwest will proceed, despite an ongoing disagreement in Minnesota over its routing.
Suncor reported net earnings fell to $789 million, compared to $1.35 billion in the same period of 2017.