Did Ottawa pay too much for the Kinder Morgan pipeline project?


If the federal government manages to overcome strong opposition in British Columbia and complete construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, experts say it will have an asset that will be of great interest to potential buyers.

Denouncing the project as a grave threat to Indigenous lands and Canada's water supply, green groups and climate activists vowed to do everything in their power to thwart the pipeline expansion.

The Canadian government is planning to buy the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from major energy corporation Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in an effort to secure its construction.

"My experience is that people are motivated by betrayal, they're motivated by a lack of fairness, they're motivated by a sense of shared common goal and outrage".

In return, Kinder Morgan will go ahead with its $7.4-billion plan to twin the pipeline carrying diluted bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to the B.C. coast and from there to overseas markets. Finance Minister Bill Morneau believes Canada's authority to build the pipeline will be able to overcome any resistance, be it from protesters or the B.C. government. If completed, it would almost triple the pipeline's capacity to transport crude and refined oil from Alberta to B.C.

"We are absolutely shocked and appalled that Canada is willingly investing taxpayers" money in such a highly controversial fossil fuel expansion project, ' said Grand Chief Stewart Philip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in an emailed statement. It was a remote location that took most people five to seven hours to get through.

The federal government's acquisition of the project "has not changed the course of the government of British Columbia" and the province has "no intention" of withdrawing its legal reference case, Premier John Horgan told reporters Tuesday in Victoria.

The news came days ahead of a May 31 deadline set by Kinder Morgan Canada - the company stopped investor spending and suspended non-essential activities related to the project in an announcement on April 8.

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Energy East, which would have converted a natural gas pipeline to oil and extended it all the way to New Brunswick, was cancelled last fall when TransCanada decided conditions had changed, including new federal regulations and lower oil prices. It is subject to approval by Kinder Morgan's shareholders.

"Buying this leaky old pipeline is like going to a casino and gambling your children's education fund", she said.

"Kinder Morgan never asked for one dollar of taxpayer money", Motz said. "They are getting a very good value", said Paul Bloom of Bloom Investments Counsel Inc, which owns about 300,000 shares in Kinder Morgan Canada.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has hinted there'll be additional costs to the Trans Mountain project, but says they'll be defrayed by revenue generated by the pipeline itself.

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is willing to go to the wall to save the Trans Mountain pipeline and get oil to Canada's west coast, federal Conservatives say he should be equally willing to do the same to revive a pipeline that would have brought oil to Canada's east coast.

The caveat, obviously, is whether the pipeline will be built.

Political experts said relations between B.C. and the federal government and neighbouring Alberta are strained over the ongoing pipeline dispute, but Trudeau's Liberals have the most to lose with the pipeline purchase.