Commentary – No pipeline upgrade? Then no more oil for B.C.

Mac Olsen

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Rachel Notley appear united in their determination to see the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline upgrade proceed. But I will reserve judgment until they provide specific details about how they will make it a reality.

They met B.C. Premier John Horgan in Ottawa on April 15 to discuss the impasse that has resulted from his vehement opposition to the project. However, Horgan showed no willingness to compromise and remained defiant as ever.

As of last week, Premier Notley announced that her government would introduce Bill 12, The Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, as a tool that could restrict petroleum and other exports outside Alberta.

As per an Edmonton Journal article on April 17: “Under the act, (Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd) can decide if a company needs an export licence to send oil and gas outside Alberta’s borders — and it’s up to the province whether or not it will grant one.”

The Journal story also says each application would be subjected to a public interest test. Once a licence is granted, Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd can set maximum quantities, dictate how products are shipped (whether it’s by rail, pipeline or road) and the licence period.

She would also have the ability to direct an operator to cease transporting natural gas, crude oil or refined fuels altogether. Finally, if companies aren’t happy with her decision, the act’s appeal process means they’ll plead their case to cabinet.

The B.C. government responded to the Alberta government’s proposed Bill 12, calling it unconstitutional for the Alberta government to deny petroleum exports to that province.

But looking at the big picture, the pipeline infrastructure in this country is insufficient and already at maximum capacity – hence, the need to expand the Kinder Morgan facility in Burnaby, B.C. with a second pipeline. Railcar use is the only other way to get our petroleum to market.

Alas, Horgan and the B.C. environmentalists are doing everything they can to thwart that project. Horgan has stated that the federal government has no jurisdiction in the project and judicial proceedings are in the cards to test that theory.

Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan is making noises about pulling out of the project, citing investor concern, and is giving the federal government until the end of May to resolve the impasse.

Outside of Kinder Morgan’s ultimatum, the way to effect change against Horgan is to inspire a 1973 style petroleum crisis in B.C. That year, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) forced an international price spike on oil by reducing output, causing huge lineups at gas stations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Alberta has the means to shut off the oil to B.C. and if it does, we could see similarly long lineups at B.C. gas stations. The price of fuel in Vancouver is currently at $1.50 per litre or higher because of the eco-friendly/tree hugger/climate change forces that dominate politics there.

If the tap is turned off in Vancouver, especially at the Vancouver International Airport, then watch the backlash Horgan could face.

True, Alberta could face a backlash for pulling the trigger on this issue. But forcing Horgan’s hand is the only other way to resolve this politically chaotic impasse.

Go ahead, B.C., make the next move.


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