The Trans Mountain pipeline yet again faces more costs, cementing the energy infrastructure as nothing more than a fiscal boondoggle.
According to Trans Mountain Corporation, the pipeline expansion faces further delays and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs unless its route is changed.
In a filing dated August 31, the Crown corporation urged the Canada Energy Regulator to change the approved route on a 1.3-kilometre (0.8 mile) section just south of Kamloops, B.C. after discovering the current route is not fiscally or technically feasible for micro-tunneling.
The corporation feared their ongoing efforts, if not redirected, would add “significant risks, costs and in-service date delays” to the project.
“Each month of delay in the in-service date results in roughly $200 million in lost revenues and roughly $190 million in carrying charges for Trans Mountain,” they said.
The Trans Mountain pipeline is Canada’s only pipeline transporting oil from Alberta to the west coast. Upon completion, it will boost the pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels per day.
The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), in a June 23, 2022 report, Trans Mountain Pipeline Update, said profitability for the critical infrastructure is out of the question. "Trans Mountain no longer continues to be a profitable undertaking," wrote analysts.
"The government's 2018 decision to acquire, expand, operate and eventually divest the Trans Mountain assets will result in a net loss for the federal government," said the PBO.
Losses could run to $2.7 billion with rising interest rates, reported Blacklock's Reporter.
Cabinet in 2018 nationalized the Kinder Morgan line for $4.5 billion on a promise of profitability. "The Canadian approach will be to ensure we make a profit," then-finance minister Bill Morneau testified at the Commons finance committee in 2020.
His successor, Chrystia Freeland, in a May 13, 2022 submission to the Senate, said, "The project will likely allow the government to recoup its expenses." She did not elaborate.
On August 23, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters: "The federal government is not in the business of running pipelines."
Parliamentary committees have yet to examine the pipeline's financing details, reported Blacklock's Reporter. Liberal MPs on the Commons natural resources committee in 2018 rejected special hearings by a vote of 5 to 4.
"They utterly failed to be prepared for this," Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs said at the time. "I think it is galling that Liberals to a person voted against a motion to block Liberal ministers from coming to the committee to answer the question."
Trudeau assured reporters that the cabinet's goal is selling the Trans Mountain pipeline. However, he did not indicate whether the taxpayers would still earn a profit with its eventual sale.
Taxpayers are on tab $30.9 billion on the interprovincial oil pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. Costs disclosed to date are incomplete and do not include funding for Indigenous groups or all financing charges.
Rebel News reached Alberta's Energy Ministry for comment on the state of the Trans Mountain pipeline and its development.
“The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) is significantly over budget,” Alberta Energy spokesperson James Snell told Rebel News. He blamed “federal disorganization” and “regulatory overreach” for further delays and costs incurred by taxpayers.
“The federal mishandling of the project from the beginning contributed to western alienation [as] the federal government continues […] importing overseas oil into eastern Canada while minimizing the world class environmental standards that western Canadian provinces hold themselves to,” he said.
Snell contends that the pipeline remains critical infrastructure that will allow Canada to deliver more oil to international markets and provide “economic and employment benefits for decades.”
Trudeau continues to defend his government’s purchase of the pipeline, claiming it ensures it will be built “in the national interest,"
"I know there are a lot of groups, including Indigenous groups, very interested in running that pipeline," he said, adding: "It would be premature to speculate too much" on the progress of their conversations with Indigenous communities.
"Do you need to prepare taxpayers for having to take a write-down on this when you sell it?" asked a reporter. Trudeau replied, "We are confident the business case for the Trans Mountain pipeline remains solid."
This is a developing story, more updated information will be released this week.