Alberta escalates Trans Mountain oil feud, Saskatchewan joins fray
Alberta is introducing a law allowing it to unilaterally reduce exports of oil and natural gas, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is following suit
EDMONTON—Premier Scott Moe says Saskatchewan will join Alberta in a fight with B.C. over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by introducing its own legislation on oil exports.
Moe says his government will bring in a bill in the coming days that could result in less oil moving to British Columbia.
“We do ship some energy products to British Columbia but not a huge amount. The majority of the energy products that are shipped to British Columbia come from Alberta,” said Moe in Regina.
“What we’re saying is if they (Alberta) turn off those taps, Saskatchewan won’t be here to fill those (B.C.) fuel tanks.”
Moe said he wants the legislation passed in the current session of the legislature so that it can work in tandem with Alberta’s legislation.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s government introduced a law on Monday that would give the province power to unilaterally reduce exports of oil and natural gas.
The bill aims to give the energy minister authority to intervene in the market, via direct licences to companies, to decide when and how certain oil and natural gas products are exported.
Moe said his bill is still being worked on, but it is likely to involve a similar permitting process.
“That’s something that we would look at very closely, and if not mirroring (Alberta’s bill) being something similar.”
In Edmonton on Tuesday, Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd welcomed Saskatchewan’s actions.
“I appreciate that they also see the importance of the energy industry to Alberta and indeed to the country,” she said.
Alberta and B.C. have been at odds over the Trans Mountain project, which was approved in 2016 but has been hamstrung by court challenges and permit delays in B.C.
Alberta says the expansion is critical to reduce bottlenecks that cost Canada $40 million a day in lost revenue, but B.C. says it remains concerned about potential oil spills on its waterways and coastline.
The future of the $7.4-billion project is uncertain. Earlier this month, pipeline-builder Kinder Morgan announced it was ratcheting back spending on it, because the actions of the B.C. government have sown investor uncertainty.
Kinder Morgan has set a deadline of May 31 to get a tangible sign from Canada that the project can and will be completed.
Alberta and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government are discussing taking an equity stake in the pipeline to ensure it gets done.
Moe said he’s not concerned that the bills might result in court challenges and fines as a breach of free-trade rules.
He said it’s an unusual and unfortunate situation that began with B.C. interfering in a federally approved interprovincial pipeline.
“We hope it doesn’t come to this. We truly don’t. This is not a conversation we want to be having,” he said.
Alberta’s oil sells at a discount on North American markets due to lack of market access outside the United States.
Moe said that same discount affects Saskatchewan and has a domino effect, because oil transported by rail means delays in moving other products such as grain and potash. He estimates the oil differential costs Saskatchewan $150 million a year.