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Protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline that will deliver natural gas to Canada’s first LNG plant are having repercussions across industries as they paralyze railway transport, prompting business leaders to lash out at the protesters and the CEO of Canadian National Railways to warn that the company may have to start laying off people if the protests continue.
“This is a good case of insanity,” the head of a car parts making company told Bloomberg.
“This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN’s activities, and beyond our control,” the chief executive of Canadian National Railways said in a statement.
In the past week alone, the company has had to cancel 400 trains as environmentalists and rights activists blockade rail lines and ports, as well as road intersections and government offices as a demonstration of solidarity with members of a First Nation, the Wet’suwet’en, who oppose the Coastal Gaslink pipeline.
The railway operator has started shutting off its operations in eastern Canada and its chief executive warned that it would have to lay off up to 6,000 people if the blockades continue, although the layoffs will be temporary.
“With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our Eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protesters,” J. J. Ruest said as quoted by the Globe and Mail.
The federal Indigenous Services Minister, Marc Miller, called on the protesters to lift the blockades.
“My request, that I ask you kindly to consider, is to discontinue the protest and barricade of the train tracks as soon as practicable,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, TC Energy, which is building the pipeline, has had to resort to police assistance to keep working on the pipeline. The infrastructure is vital for the LNG Canada project—the first of its kind to be built in Canada—to which it will supply natural gas from Dawson Creek, close to the border with Alberta, to Kitimat, where the liquefaction trains of LNG Canada will be built.
LNG Canada is a project of Shell, with a 40-percent stake, Malaysia’s Petronas with 25 percent, PetroChina with 15 percent, Mitsubishi with 15 percent, and South Korea’s Kogas with 5 percent.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.