Kinder Morgan Announces Further Trans Mountain Pipeline Delays

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By Zainab Calcuttawala, Oilprice.com

The controversial Trans Mountain pipeline could miss its anticipated September 2020 completion date due to bureaucratic opacity regarding the permitting process and judicial obstacles, according to Kinder Morgan.

The admission caused stocks to fall 2.4 percent Tuesday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange, even as the benchmark energy index rose 0.5 percent. The Canadian energy sector has been in recovery for the past few months as the barrel price surpasses $60 piece.

Traders are also likely to increase their estimated capital costs for the project due to the delay, adding to the financial burden of extended activist backlash to the project.

The Trans Mountain project, about as controversial as every new crude oil pipeline project in Canada and the United States, needs more than a thousand permits before it can proceed. Kinder Morgan has already secured a few hundred of those, but it is now facing increased pressure from the new British Columbia government, which seems determined to stop the expansion whatever it takes.

A couple of months ago, after the New Democratic Party government was sworn in, Canadian media quoted the province’s environmental minister as saying that, “Our government made it clear that a seven-fold increase in heavy oil tankers in the Vancouver harbour is not in B.C.’s best interests,” although the industry begs to differ. There have been warnings that Canada’s oil sands production will soon outgrow its pipeline capacity, causing more oil to be transported by rail—a riskier way of transportation than pipelines in terms of spillage.

The $5.8-billion project is also threatened by a legal battle in which the NDP government has partnered with First Nations. This strong opposition to Trans Mountain, one of very few new oil pipeline projects approved by the Liberal federal government, is also putting British Columbia at odds with Canada’s main oil producing province, Alberta.

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