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NEB will create process to resolve permitting issues for Kinder Morgan

By: financialpost.com 4 months ago
NEB will create process to resolve permitting issues for Kinder Morgan

The NEB ruled a process for resolving provincial and municipal permitting issues would be “in the public interest” and noted “disputes have already arisen with respect to certain municipal bylaws”

News NEB will create process to resolve permitting issues for Kinder Morgan

About NEB will create process to resolve permitting issues for Kinder Morgan

Online NEB will create process to resolve permitting issues for Kinder Morgan
How NEB will create process to resolve permitting issues for Kinder Morgan

CALGARY – The National Energy Board has granted Kinder Morgan Canada’s request to establish a process whereby the company can get the permits it needs to build its controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, even if local governments are opposed.

Kinder Morgan Canada had asked the NEB in November to create a board that would resolve disputes between it and municipalities and the B.C. provincial government because of delays getting permits to build its $7.4 billion pipeline to the West Coast.

In a written decision Thursday, the NEB granted that request.

It ruled a process for resolving provincial and municipal permitting issues would be “in the public interest” and noted “disputes have already arisen with respect to certain municipal bylaws.”

“The board believes that a generic process will provide a measure of certainty regarding the regulatory tools available to resolve permitting disputes or disagreements, should the relevant parties otherwise be unable to do so,” the ruling stated.

The ruling is a key victory for Kinder Morgan, which this week delayed the expected in-service date of the Trans Mountain project to December 2020 — a full year behind the company’s initial schedule.

Kinder Morgan Canada chairman Steve Kean said during an earnings call Wednesday that the company needed more certainty on getting construction permits before it could ramp up to full construction.

“Local governments are not typically in opposition,” Kean said of Burnaby, which has opposed the project.

A previous NEB ruling has allowed the company to continue with construction in Burnaby even without complying with two local bylaws, as the NEB will monitor the company’s construction. The NEB also released its reasons for that decision Thursday.

Now, the company also has a process for resolving future disputes with other opposed municipalities.

“It is essential for us to know that we can move forward even if local governments are opposed,” Kean said.

The Trans Mountain expansion project will twin an existing pipeline between Alberta and British Columbia, adding new capacity to send an additional 590,000 barrels of oil per day to the West Coast for export to Asian markets.

Major oilsands producers including Suncor Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. have committed to send their barrels down the pipeline, which the Calgary oilpatch believes is necessary for Canadian producers to get a higher price for their oil.

Environmentalist groups, a handful of First Nations and local politicians in British Columbia have opposed the project, due to concerns it will contribute to climate change and over fears that bitumen would sink if it spilled in the ocean or in the province’s waterways.

The NEB ruling points out that the new dispute resolution process “is not to be used as a negotiating tool” between the company and opposed municipalities.

However, the NEB would get involved in permitting process in cases where it’s unclear if Kinder Morgan has not complied with the regulator’s conditions for construction or “where constitutional relief is requested.”

Financial Post

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