What a great day for the Canadian oil and gas industry and Canada…or is it? On June 18, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. You know, the outrageously -delayed pipeline project designed to carry nearly a million barrels of oil from Alberta’s oil patch to the B.C. coast each day.
And although not everyone agrees with this decision, the approval could have a very positive effect on the oil and gas industry, its employees, and residents of Alberta, British Columbia and Canada in general.
The Cabinet affirmed the National Energy Board’s conclusion that, even though the pipeline has the potential to damage the environment and marine life, it’s in the national interest to proceed. It could contribute tens of billions of dollars to government coffers and create and sustain thousands of jobs.
The NEB created a list of 157 required conditions that the Company must meet before, during, and after the pipeline is built. That means that even with approval, there is still a great deal of work to do. The conditions were designed to ensure that the pipeline is constructed and operated in a way that protects people and the environment. Costly and time consuming, the company met all the requirements to get the government’s approval. These conditions are available from the National Energy Board.
Three areas worth noting:
1. Environmental Management
2. Safety and Integrity Management
3. Emergency Management
As part of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, extensive work identified several potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce those impacts. The Company’s goal is to protect the environment, have as little impact as possible and, where there is an impact, ensure that the Environment is returned as much as possible to its natural state.
In order to do this, the Company has been studying a wide range of environmental features, including plants, soils, wildlife, species at risk and traditional land use. In addition, extensive analysis to predict the effects associated with the project, including those that could be caused by construction, operations, decommissioning or abandonment, as well as potential incidents and malfunctions.
Safety management is one of the most significant areas of concern. The safe construction and operation of the new pipeline matters to everyone. The Company has substantial experience in this area. It has been safely moving oil through the Trans Mountain Pipeline and loading tankers at its marine terminal for approximately 65 years. During that time, they’ve developed comprehensive safety, spill prevention and emergency response plans to ensure the protection of the public, the environment and Company employees.
Their Emergency Management Program (EMP) is a comprehensive set of policies, procedures and processes designed to support The Company’s commitment to the safety and security of the public, protection of the environment, workers, and company property. The EMP is an all-hazards safety management program of mitigation, preparedness and response designed to provide a continuous cycle of improvement as mandated by the National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline Regulations.
But then, along comes a double-whammy from the Senate!
TMX jumped through all the hoops. They were approved not once, but twice. But as fast as the project was re-approved, BAM- POW-ZAP! the Canadian Senate approved Bill C – 69 and Bill C – 48 which effectively hamstring any new project approvals and dead-end new pipeline and infrastructure projects along BCs northern coast.
Allowing TMX (which the federal government owns) to go ahead while slamming the door on new projects (that it doesn’t own) seems more than a little self-serving. The feds have insured their investment while killing investment optimism for new projects.
So, is there any real hope for Alberta and for Canada to get out from under this lunacy? Only a change in federal government will give us a fighting chance to get back to business with reasonable, equitable and effective environmental protections.
It’s clear this good cop-bad cop scenario was an orchestrated play by Prime Minister Trudeau to give the appearance that his government supports Canada’s oil and gas industry, while confident the senate would smother it.
Frankly, they all need to go and stop wasting precious time, resources and their constituents’ trust.