• By: OLM Staff

Message to Trudeau government – pipelines make sense

“Until the federal government gets its act together, Alberta ispulling out of the federal climate plan”  – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Aug.30, 2018.  

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s anger at the Trudeau government’s mishandling of Canada’s multi-billion Trans Mountain Pipeline was a wakeup call to Canada about just how badly the country’s energy file has been mishandled since 2015.

Her comments came after a panel of three judges said the National Energy Board’s review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal was so flawed that the federal government could not use it as a basis for its decision to approve the project. The decision put into jeopardy tens of thousands of jobs across Western Canada all because of the Trudeau government’s bizarre and confusing policy about the role of pipelines.

This uncertainty caused Kinder Morgan to pull out of the $7-billion private-sector-funded project earlier this year.

The initial government response was to shell out $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to buy the project from Kinder Morgan. Finance Minister Bill Morneau assured the House of Commons that shovels would be in the ground this summer.

Then, the court shut everything down.

Canada’s transmission pipeline companies employ 13,500 full-time workers and operate almost 135,000 kilometres of pipeline in Canada and the United States. In 2017, pipelines moved approximately 1.4-billion barrels of crude oil and 5.7-trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

These companies transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America. Their expertise and safety record is the best in the world.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) publishes an annual report on the performance of its members. The CEPA Integrity First® program enables member companies to work collectively to strengthen the pipeline industry’s performance in critical areas of safety, environmental protection and socio-economic practices.

CEPA hosted an event in Ottawa in August 2017 where media and stakeholders learned in real time how companies, government and related parties all work together to ensure the highest response rate in case of an incident.

CEPA members held 542 emergency response exercises in 2017, ranging in complexity from emergency drills to full-scale exercises. They invested $22.2 million in innovative technology in 2017, focused on reducing pipeline corrosion and improving pipeline inspection, leak detection and damage prevention and CEPA members spent almost $4.1 billion in 2017 to obtain personnel, services, supplies and equipment from local sources, including $261 million from Indigenous suppliers.

“We are proud of our industry’s performance and how we are prepared to respond in the unlikely event of an incident,” said Chris Bloomer, CEPA President and CEO. “CEPA members are committed to a common goal of zero incidents – no incident is acceptable.”

While the number of significant incidents has trended downward the past five years, there was an increase to three significant incidents in 2017 from one in 2016. Two involved liquids pipelines and one involved a natural gas pipeline.

“Pipelines play a vital role in delivering the energy that fuels our lives, supports jobs and drives economic growth across Canada,” said Karl Johannson, CEPA Board Chair and Executive Vice-President & President, Canada and Mexico Gas Pipelines for TransCanada Corporation. “Our industry does not compete on safety. We are committed to collaboration and continuous improvement because we know that Canadians expect our oil and natural gas supplies to be transported in the safest, most responsible manner possible.”

Given the record of the industry and its importance to Canada’s energy economy, Notley’s frustration is understandable and on Aug. 30 she directly linked her support for Ottawa’s climate-change agenda directly to Ottawa’s support for the pipeline industry.

“Signing on to the federal climate plan can’t happen without the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

“Today I’m announcing that with the Trans Mountain halted and the work on it halted, until the federal government gets its act together, Alberta is pulling out of the federal climate plan and let’s be clear, without Alberta, that plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”