Canada to buy major pipeline to ensure it gets built

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According to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, the Canadian government could soon buy Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline project to ensure its completion.

The Trans Mountain expansion would nearly triple capacity to 890,000 bbl of oil on a line running from Alberta to a terminal near Vancouver. It would end at a terminal outside Vancouver, resulting in a seven-fold increase in the number of tankers in an environmentally sensitive area.

Last month, Kinder Morgan halted all non-essential spending on Trans Mountain as the Houston-based company faced mounting opposition from B.C. Premier John Horgan, environmentalists and protestors.

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced the plan Tuesday in Ottawa.

"Make no mistake: this is an investment in Canada's future", Morneau said. The 980-km (600-mi) expansion is seen by the oil industry as a crucial link to Asian markets, allowing producers to diversify away from the US, which takes the vast majority of Canadian oil exports.

Canada has the world's third largest oil reserves but 99 per cent of its exports now go to refiners in the US, where Canadian oil sells at a discount.

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The project has pitted Alberta against coastal British Columbia, where concerns about fisheries, real estate values, tourism and ocean ecology are high.

Morneau said the purchase of the pipeline gives the project the federal jurisdiction needed to overcome the provincial opposition of British Columbia, but he did not say how it could force the province to allow the pipeline to be built.

If the project does eventually complete, the pipeline expansion will nearly double Canada's production capacity in the pacific oil markets from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 590,000bpd. It will be a key test of Trudeau's bid to balance the environment and the economy by backing the C$7.4 billion pipeline expansion while pushing a national carbon price to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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