Kinder Morgan making careful moves

Three weeks after B.C. laid down the conditions for getting a pipeline endorsed, the president of Kinder Morgan wrote a six-page letter to Premier Christy Clark.

It gives a glimpse of how the company – which is planning to twin an existing line to metro Vancouver – is trying to differentiate itself from the Enbridge Northern Gateway effort to build a line to Kitimat.

The public argument over that proposal is reaching peak volume just as debate on Kinder Morgan’s plan is getting underway.

And the impression is building that the Kinder Morgan project – which is a year or two behind Enbridge in the approval process – is the one to take seriously.

Enbridge is now facing a wall of opposition from multiple sectors. Even the B.C. Liberals seem to be growing steadily more skeptical about the idea of pumping bitumen through mostly virgin wilderness to a new oil port on the wild west coast.

Kinder Morgan’s idea – known as the Trans Mountain Project – has its share of critics, too. But the company is pressing ahead with a plan to make a formal application in late 2013 to twin an existing line from Alberta to metro Vancouver by way of Kamloops and have it finished by 2017.

After the B.C. government set down the conditions, company president Ian Anderson wrote Clark. The letter was made public late last month in response to a freedom-of-information request by a researcher.

Anderson said it comprised the company’s “initial thoughts” on the conditions.

“A key distinction between the two pipeline proposals, irrespective of geography, is that Northern Gateway is a greenfield proposal and Trans Mountain, with its 60-year operating history, is not,” Anderson wrote.

He said it’s obvious that “heavy oil” is a concern of the government and the public.

“The existing Trans Mountain pipeline has been transporting increasing amounts of heavy oil for the past 30 years,” he said.

Anderson said it represents about a quarter of the volumes now shipped through the line. “Contrary to much of the public misinformation regarding corrosiveness and oil spill cleanup … heavy oil is not significantly different than conventional oil.

“The Trans Mountain pipeline is not corroding nor is effective oil-spill response hindered because of it.

“In my view, focusing on heavy oil mischaracterizes many progressive and excellent ideas advanced in the [B.C. government’s] report.”

B.C.’s conditions are: Successful completion of environmental review, world-leading safety standards on both the marine and terrestrial sides, respect for First Nations’ rights and a fair share of the benefits for B.C.

Anderson said he is confident Trans Mountain will pass the environmental review. He said that was “not out of a lack of respect for the process,” but because they built 160 kilometres of pipeline through Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park four years ago, a job that required the highest standards.

He lauded the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, an oil-spill co-op founded in the 1970s. Although the company had a disastrous spill on land in 2007, when a work crew ruptured a line in Burnaby spilling almost a quarter-million litres, Anderson said the co-ordinated response was first-rate.

Addressing aboriginal treaty rights is simply a law that must be complied with, he said. The existing line crosses 15 reserves and the traditional territories of many more. Anderson said they might not get agreements with all First Nations, but will seek solutions, and fulfil the obligation to consult and mitigate.

The last and touchiest issue – a fair share – is “outside the direct control” of the company. But Anderson said he would welcome talks on the issue and the company could play a role in helping find a solution.

So it’s building on a 60-year history, through mountains that have already been climbed, to a port that’s not nearly as exposed.

But it has another advantage at this point – the NDP opposition is withholding judgment.

With the widespread assumption the NDP will win the election next May, the party’s views are crucial. Leader Adrian Dix has completely rejected the Northern Gateway, but he’s non-committal on Trans Mountain because the application hasn’t been filed yet.

In his lengthy statement against the Enbridge proposal, Dix put most of the emphasis on the increased tanker traffic that would ensue on the north coast.

If it’s a fresh new NDP government that has to make the call on Trans Mountain, it may not be the automatic rejection some people expect.

lleyne@timescolonist.com
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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Kinder Morgan: Question for Bowenians

Hi everyone,

I know quite a few of you are following the Northern Gateway Project with a lot of trepidation and some with a lot of outrage. As you have probably seen the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project which will be terminating in Burnaby is beginning to be covered by the media as the public consultation process begins.

Recently, Kinder Morgan (KM) has announced their first round of public consultation of which there will be a session, ostensibly, on Bowen: November 10th at BICS from 2:30 to 4:30.

Here is the online announcement from KM.

Our Islands Trust Chair, Sheila Malcolmson, has asked me to find out if Bowen people feel there is sufficient advance notice of this from KM (not me). I haven’t seen the recent Undercurrent yet (I know… for shame, for shame).

Please let me know here, so I can guage a response to her today.

Thanks!!

-Andrew Stone

Ian Anderson and Kinder Morgan: Hard-won pipeline wisdom

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously coined the phrase “all politics is local.”

In the passionate national conversation about oilsands development and oil export plans, Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, can apply that same wisdom in observing that all pipelines are local, too. And few things are more political in Canada these days than pipelines.

The Calgary-based company has proposed a $5-billion twinning of its 53-year-old Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Edmonton to Washington state and suburban Vancouver that would more than double its capacity to 850,000 barrels per day. The line would carry more oil than the Northern Gateway pipeline through northern B.C. that has garnered such vocal opposition.

Unlike Northern Gateway, the Trans Mountain’s proposal isn’t even before regulators yet. But Anderson has already heard plenty of opposition. He can assure anyone in industry who wants to listen; economic lessons on the importance of diversified markets or well-documented talking points detailing the billions of dollars that will be added to the Canadian economy or government coffers simply don’t resonate.

“The ‘national interest’ doesn’t matter a damn to that person who is sitting in Chilliwack whose yard is potentially going to be dug up for a new pipeline,” Anderson said Friday. “It doesn’t matter a damn to that First Nation in the North Thompson Valley who is questioning the integrity of the pipeline that will cross the many streams and creeks on their traditional lands.”

The beneficiaries of Anderson’s hard-won wisdom were a few hundred delegates attending a Canadian Heavy Oil Association conference. His remarks sounded a lot like a report from the battlefield – and in some ways they were.

Kinder Morgan has said it will spend up to two years consulting with communities along the route, including First Nations and environmental groups. Anderson points out he has made dozens of trips to Vancouver, Victoria and other B.C. cities since the expansion project was announced in April, but none to Ottawa.

He told the story of being in a pub in Sidney, B.C., on Monday evening as thousands of people were holding sit-ins across the province to protest pipelines and oil tankers.

When it emerged he was in the pipeline business, the bartender jokingly responded: “That’s good … as long as you don’t plan on building a pipeline through B.C.”

Laughs ensued among his Calgary audience. Regrettably, the conversations haven’t always been so cordial.

In Chilliwack in August, Anderson was grilled at a chamber of commerce luncheon by members of PIPE UP Network over the safety of pumping diluted bitumen through the pipeline and about what Kinder Morgan would do if the expansion wasn’t supported by the communities it will cross along the 1,150-km route.

When he wrote an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun in September espousing the benefits of engaging communities in honest dialogue, Maryam Adrangi of the Council of Canadians wrote a scathing “open letter” in response, concluding: “I agree with you that the only way forward requires trust and confidence. But how can this ‘expansion’ move forward when we have been given so little in which we have any confidence or trust?”

Anderson made the point in Calgary that any proponent of a major industrial project these days must be prepared to engage in tough conversations. In fact, he urged his audience to seek out people whose views they’re not likely to see eye to eye with, at least initially.

While Anderson supports “the very necessary conversation around local interests versus national interest” in Canada over energy infrastructure he has little positive to offer about much of the political dialogue over the issue.

It often amounts to opportunistic rhetoric driven by a political calendar or agenda.

He suggested B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford have hardly been “a shining example of political alignment” in discussions over West Coast pipelines for growing oilsands production but saved his strongest rebuke for federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and comments last fall that vilified foreign opponents of the pipelines.

Apparently, branding pipeline opponents as part of an international conspiracy to undermine Canadian sovereignty didn’t help.

“It wasn’t very well timed for us,” Anderson said, pointing out he supported Oliver’s intent but not his comments. “What it did was further entrench that local opposition.

“That local opposition got more reinforced, more committed to standing in the way of this project whether it was because they don’t trust Ottawa and politicians and it made my job on the ground that much harder.”

After laying the groundwork until 2014, a two-year review by the National Energy Board will follow. If it is approved, construction could start in 2016 with the newly twinned line joining the company’s 60,000-km pipeline network in North America in 2017. Undoubtedly, Canadians haven’t heard the last on this subject.

Stephen Ewart is a Calgary Herald columnist sewart@calgaryherald.com
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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An open letter to Kinder Morgan Canada

Author
Maryam Adrangi
Ian,

Can I call you Ian? I hope so. Let’s consider it a first step towards building that trust and confidence you seek with British Columbians. I read your recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun and I had some follow-up questions and comments.

I should probably confirm that we are in fact speaking about the same project — the Trans Mountain “expansion” project? I put it in quotations because “expansion” seems like a misnomer when you plan to build an entirely new pipeline, even if it’s alongside an existing one.

Or maybe the “expansion” refers to the alternate northern route that you so rarely talk about. The one that would require building a new pipeline to the port of Kitimat, bringing tankers to the north coast of B.C., much like the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

Given that the Trans Mountain “expansion” would carry even more than the Northern Gateway, I would expect it would bring even more tankers to Kitimat than Enbridge. If you’ve been paying attention to B.C. politics, you may notice that residents in this province are quite concerned about Enbridge and the tankers. A larger pipeline and more tankers would raise even more alarm bells.

I also see you’ve written that you are going “to hear every voice and every concern.” Will you also respect every voice and every concern?
You must have heard that Carleen Thomas, elected band council member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, said “The Tsleil-Waututh Nation opposes the expansion,” at a public forum in Burnaby on June 27. Her nation and over 100 others have signed the Save the Fraser Declaration that bans tar sands pipelines and tankers in the signatories’ territories and on the ocean migration routes of Fraser River Salmon on the north and south coasts of B.C.
If for some reason this opposition has not registered, you definitely heard Chief Mike LeBourdais of Whispering Pine, with whom you had a personal conversation.

Remember, you threatened to rip the pipeline right out of his reserve so that it wouldn’t get any tax money. His response: “Great, I’ll operate the backhoe.” I expect that you’ll continue to hear more of that. I ask again: Will you and Kinder Morgan Canada respect what you hear?

I’d also like to comment on Kinder Morgan Canada’s “culture of safety” that you talk about. What is that exactly?

Making sure construction workers wear hard hats? Or ensuring that pipelines aren’t ruptured and spills and leaks don’t happen? If the latter, where was that “culture” during the 2007 oil spill in Burnaby that forced evacuations and required $15 million in clean-up costs? Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said he was “appalled” that it took your company 17 hours to send a clean-up crew to the site of the spill.

You must have been appalled too. That is probably why you write that you “have plans to respond, clean up, remediate and learn from every incident.”

But at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Chilliwack on Aug. 16, you said that you “have not changed your response capabilities or equipment” since the 2007 spill. Five years later, I am shocked to hear that you have not improved your capability to respond to a spill in less than 17 hours.__And we know that it is a matter of when a spill happens, not if. You even point out in your op-ed that you “cannot promise there won’t ever be a spill.”

I will end by addressing your last point that “British Columbians want and need reliable information and facts that will provide them with greater understanding of our proposed project and assist them in forming opinions.” Absolutely, we would like full information. However, not only has Kinder Morgan Canada withheld information such as the exact route of the new pipeline, but sometimes we are the ones informing you.

At a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting in Chilliwack, members of a local pipeline opposition group, PIPE-UP, let you know that the diluted bitumen you want to transport is more corrosive and harder to clean up than conventional crude. Don’t let the name fool you, the risks aren’t diluted at all. The volunteer-run community group followed up with your staff by sending reports and documents verifying these facts. And yet you continue to claim that there is “no scientific or operational evidence that it is any more corrosive to the pipeline than other products.”

I agree with you that the only way forward requires trust and confidence. But how can this “expansion” move forward when we have been given so little in which we have any confidence or trust?