Pipes for the Trans Mountain pipeline project are seen at a storage facility near Hope, B.C., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Pipes for the Trans Mountain pipeline project are seen at a storage facility near Hope, B.C., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canada Energy Regulator projects there may be no need for Trans Mountain expansion

Ottawa bought the existing pipeline for $4.4 billion in 2018

A new report from the Canada Energy Regulator projects that if Canada strengthens its climate policies to cut more greenhouse-gas emissions, it could eliminate the need for both the Trans Mountain expansion and the new Keystone XL pipeline.

The Energy Futures report, issued Tuesday, estimates energy production and consumption through 2050, based on two scenarios: one in which no more climate policies are introduced after this year and an “evolving” one where more initiatives are added to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

Under the status quo scenario, the regulator projects the three pipelines under construction — Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and Enbridge Line 3 — will be the last ones needed to handle future growth in crude oil production. Under the evolving scenario, crude production still grows about 18 per cent before peaking in 2039, but the report says Line 3 alone is enough added capacity to handle that increase.

Cam Fenton, Canada team lead at 350.org (named for a “safe” level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) pointed out regulator twice recommended the government approve the Trans Mountain expansion, but is now projecting that Prime Minister Justin “Trudeau’s own actions on climate could make the pipeline he bought unnecessary.”

However Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said not going ahead with all three pipelines would be a mistake.

He said stopping pipeline capacity to handle total maximum annual production doesn’t take into account ebbs and flows of shipments, comparing it to only building freeways using the total number of cars travelling daily, rather than during peak periods.

“That would be an inefficient transportation system,” he said. “In Canada we have struggled with under capacity or full capacity. Neither of those are efficient systems.”

Keystone XL is already in jeopardy because U.S. president-elect Joe Biden promised to rescind Washington’s approval for the cross-border project. Trans Mountain restarted construction in 2019 after pausing in 2018 because of the court decision on federal approval.

The Trudeau cabinet had to approve the Trans Mountain expansion twice, after the Federal Court of Appeal said the first approval lacked sufficient Indigenous consultation and environmental review.

Ottawa bought the existing pipeline for $4.4 billion in 2018, after Kinder Morgan Canada was threatening to walk away from the expansion project amid political opposition that was delaying construction.

Trudeau pledged Canada would expand it, and then sell it back to the private sector.

It’s currently estimated it will cost about $12.6 billion to expand the pipeline by building a nearly parallel version that will almost triple total capacity.

READ MORE: Fossil fuels to decline but remain big player in Canada’s energy use by 2050: report

Tom Gunton, a resource and environmental planning professor at Simon Fraser University, said the status quo scenario in the Energy Futures report is not realistic, since the government just introduced legislation last week to make getting to net zero emissions by 2050 legally binding.

The report itself notes to get to net zero, Canada will have to be more aggressive at moving away from fossil fuels than even what its “evolving” scenario lays out. The report says Canadians will still get almost two-thirds of their energy from fossil fuels by 2050 under the evolving scenario.

Net zero means any emissions still produced are absorbed by nature or technology, rather than left in the atmosphere to contribute to global warming. Gunton said the evolving scenario is the more likely situation in the report, and that scenario makes it pretty clear “you’re not going to need these pipelines, so you should at least defer or shelve construction.”

He said if the projections change, they can be revisited but at the moment we could be spending more than $22 billion to build pipelines that aren’t needed.

Canada Energy Regulator CEO Gitane De Silva told The Canadian Press in an interview that the goal of the report isn’t to comment on existing policy but to paint a picture of where things could go using a variety of assumptions.

“Really, our hope is that this information will help inform that policy process going forward,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the regulator also later clarified that the report is not saying whether or not any specific pipelines should be built, but rather looks at potential crude production based on a number of assumptions. The spokeswoman said the chart is not a forecast, and is not an attempt to assess the optimal capacity for Canada’s pipeline system.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

oil and gasTrans Mountain pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake Country looks at big-ticket projects

Bottom Wood Lake Road construction are the biggest investments

Police outside a home on Leathead Road on Monday evening. (Jen Zielinski - Black Press Media)
Police presence at home near Ben Lee Park in Rutland

Several RCMP cruisers are on scene; Leathead closed between Franklyn and Hollywood

Hillview Elementary students Emma Li and Mina Nadeau were awarded by the Premier’s office for winning the annual holiday card contest. (Karen Rogers photo)
Vernon students’ art featured on Premier’s cards

Hillview youth chosen for annual holiday card contest

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

Sunnybank
COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun in Salmon Arm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccinations underway in Salmon Arm

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun

This is the location, 3240 Skaha Lake Road, of where BC Housing plans to build a four storey supportive housing project for the homeless and at risk of being homeless. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton mayor and MLA concerned about new BC Housing project

‘Penticton already has its fair share’ of BC Housing projects

Interior Health declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long term care home over Monday, Jan. 18, 2020. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place care home declared over

‘This has been one of our most challenging outbreaks so far,’ says chief medical health officer

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton Bylaw officer Glenn Smith, as well as resident Zak Laycock (not pictured), received the Governor General Award from the Royal Canadian Humane Association to recognize their heroism in a summer 2019 incident. (Contributed)
Bylaw officer and Penticton resident given awards for intervening in sexual assault

Bylaw officer Glenn Smith said he was simply in the right place at the right time

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Most Read