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Kinder Morgan CEO ‘appreciates’ Ottawa’s offer to backstop pipeline delay costs

The CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. says he “appreciates” an announcement by Finance Minister Bill Morneau that the government will compensate investors in the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion if “unnecessary delays” cause costs to rise.

Morneau says the government is willing to “provide indemnity” to any investors, be they the project’s original architects or otherwise, to ensure the controversial Alberta-B.C. project is able to proceed.

“We acknowledge the comments by Minister Morneau this morning and appreciate his acknowledgement of the uncertainty created by the B.C. Government’s stated intentions to ‘do whatever it takes to stop the Trans Mountain Expansion Project’ and the ‘exceptional political risk’ this federally and provincially-approved project continues to face. We appreciate his recognition that a private company ‘cannot resolve differences between governments,'” CEO Steven Kean said in a written statement.

“We remain steadfast in our previously stated principles: clarity on the path forward, particularly with respect to the ability to construct through British Columbia, and ensuring adequate protection of our KML shareholders.” 

‘Will not negotiate in public’

“While discussions are ongoing, we are not yet in alignment and will not negotiate in public,” Kean said. “As we have stated, the May 31st deadline for these discussions is necessitated by approaching construction windows, the time required to mobilize contractors, and the need to commit significant new materials orders, among many other imperatives associated with such a large project.”

Kean offered no further comment during his remarks and declined to talk to reporters after his company’s first annual general meeting since being spun off by U.S.-based Kinder Morgan Inc. to hold most of its Canadian assets a year ago.

Last month, the company said it would stop all non-essential spending on the expansion project to triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta to the West Coast, which Alberta says is critical to reduce discounts on its product due mainly to pipeline bottlenecks.

Kean reiterated that construction won’t be restarted unless there are sufficient assurances by the end of this month that it can proceed.

Outside the meeting in downtown Calgary, about 50 vocal pipeline supporters armed with signs and slogans assembled on the sidewalk, chanting as passing cars honked their horns.

Picketers Mike Owens and Derek B. Cooper say they were unimpressed with Morneau’s announcement, adding it offers further proof that the Liberal government has done too little to make sure the pipeline wins approval.

Picket organizer James Robson of the Canada Action Coalition says the government shouldn’t have to offer money to make sure an approved pipeline will be built.

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