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Pipeline assets will attract buyers if feds can complete expansion, experts say

05 June 2018

In a less-than-optimistic sign, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that the government does not want to own the pipeline for a long period of time, but he conceded that it could remain the owner for the "medium term". Canada has the world's third largest oil reserves but 99 percent of its exports now go to refiners in the US, where limits on pipeline and refinery capacity mean Canadian oil sells at a discount.

British Columbia has vowed to block the pipeline even though the federal government supports the project. The expansion would allow the system to send 890,000 barrels of different types of oil products from Edmonton to Burnaby per day. He said he could not state exactly what additional costs will be incurred by the Canadian public to build the expansion, but suggested a toll paid by oil companies could offset some costs and that there would be a financial return on the investment.

On Friday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge made protesting more hard when he scrapped a 10-minute pre-arrest warning and expanded an injunction to include other facilities used by the company. Also, the 26 lenders that Kinder Morgan negotiated with agreed to exempt the pipeline company from penalties on loans if the project was delayed or obstructed because of political problems.

The Canadian government purchased the pipeline for 4.5 billion Canadian dollars-around 3.5 billion American dollars.

In total, 1,191 provincial permits are required for the Trans Mountain expansion project, with many involving First Nations consultation.

Ahead of the federal intervention, Moody's Investors Service said oil-rich Alberta could face a significant loss in revenue if the project were cancelled.

Kinder Morgan Canada says the expansion project originated in response to requests from oil shippers to help them reach new markets by expanding the capacity of North America's only pipeline with access to the West Coast.

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By way of asserting its resolve to keep the project moving ahead, the government said it would provide funding for the 2018 construction season through loan guarantees. The Prime Minister responded with a quote from Notley that the government met the deadline set by Kinder Morgan and "this project has more certainly than ever". "We will not stand down no matter who buys this ill-fated and exorbitantly priced pipeline".

The Government of British Columbia remains opposed to the pipeline expansion because of its risk to the environment. "Our government is determined to defend British Columbia's interests within the rule of law and in the courts".

"No means no. We're going to do whatever it takes to stop this pipeline", said Cedar George-Parker with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Now, Justin Trudeau has made a decision to use taxpayer money to buy the entire pipeline.

"Buying this leaky old pipeline is like going to a casino and gambling your children's education fund", she said.

The federal government's record of making money on investments in energy megaprojects is spotty, but it has often succeeded in saving troubled projects that eventually are sold back to the private sector, said Doucet.

Pipeline assets will attract buyers if feds can complete expansion, experts say