Graham Thomson: News conferences shed no new light on fate of Trans Mountain expansion

Well, that was clear as mud.

Wednesday morning, both the federal and Alberta governments held news conferences to update us on the Kinder Morgan pipeline situation — but we still don’t know if the company will pull the plug in two weeks on the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion; and we still don’t know when or if Alberta will invoke retaliatory measures to turn off the oil taps to British Columbia.

In the first news conference, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Ottawa is “willing to indemnify the Trans Mountain expansion against unnecessary delays that are politically motivated.”

That sounds like a firm promise until you look at it closely.

Ottawa seems willing to cut a cheque to Kinder Morgan, but we don’t know for how much. And we don’t know if this is enough to convince the company to drop its threat to pull the plug May 31. Morneau’s offer to help Kinder Morgan — or anyone else who would step in to take over the project — is limited to “delays that are politically motivated.” What about delays that are caused by environmental protests?

Analysts say Morneau’s comments were designed to put pressure on the pipeline company to make a deal with Ottawa to keep the Trans Mountain expansion alive.

But Kinder Morgan CEO Steven Kean sounded unruffled when he said he “appreciates” Morneau’s comments, but “we are not yet in alignment and will not negotiate in public.”

Kean’s biggest problem isn’t getting money out of Ottawa, it’s getting B.C. Premier John Horgan out of the way.

It is Horgan’s passive-aggressive opposition that has delayed the project by a year at least and given investors the jitters.

With that in mind, Morneau took specific aim at Horgan during Wednesday’s news conference.

“Premier Horgan’s stated intentions are to do whatever it takes to stop the project, which …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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