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A delegation including almost a hundred businesses from British Columbia as well as labor union and Aboriginal community leaders are visiting Edmonton to demonstrate their support for the expansion of the Trans Mountain crude oil pipeline, which the British Columbia government is fiercely opposing.
The B.C. delegates are worried that after last month Kinder Morgan suspended all non-essential work on the pipeline, it may never restart it, which will deprive the businesses and communities of benefits they have been eagerly awaiting.
“We need (the pipeline), because we don’t have a lot of other economic opportunities,” a member of the delegation—a former First Nation chief—said. “If this doesn’t go through, it’s going to have a really negative impact on us and on the things that we do. We just want to work.”
The delegations is in Edmonton just a day after the Alberta government announced legislation that will allow it to suspend all crude oil flows to British Columbia in retaliation to the B.C. government’s opposition to Trans Mountain, which sparked an open conflict between the two neighbors.
B.C. fired the first shot with a proposal for a review of environmental assessment regulations and possible amendments to oil spill response procedures. The review would have delayed Trans Mountain—which had already received federal approval. Alberta shot back with a ban on some B.C. goods such as wine, and the review proposal was dropped. However, B.C. continued to look for ways to stall the project, approaching the court with a question about whether it could stop the pipeline on the grounds that it is a threat to its environment.
In response, Alberta drafted Bill 12, which B.C. has called unconstitutional as it clearly targeted B.C. and only B.C. because of the difference of opinions on Trans Mountain’s expansion.
Meanwhile, the May 31 deadline that Kinder Morgan gave Canada’s government to make sure the project can go ahead is drawing near, and producers in Alberta are desperate for transport capacity as they are forced to sell their crude at a deep discount to WTI because of pipeline and rail car shortages.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.