Canada’s Trans Mountain oil-pipeline expansion is no bargain after a multibillion-dollar increase in the cost of the project. But there could be at least one unexpected suitor.

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP may be a “dark horse” buyer should the opportunity arise as it recently completed a big equity raise and has “excellent access to capital markets,” Ian Gillies, an analyst at Stifel FirstEnergy said in a report published Monday. Brookfield had purchased NorthRiver Midstream Inc. in 2018, highlighting its interest and ability to run energy infrastructure assets.

The price tag for the Trans Mountain expansion has increased 70 per cent to $12.6 billion given legal delays and accommodations made to indigenous communities along its route. The project is now owned by Justin Trudeau’s government, who purchased it from U.S.-based Kinder Morgan Inc. for US$4.5 billion.

Just last week, parent company Brookfield Asset Management Inc. raised US$20 billion in equity commitments for its flagship global infrastructure fund and the firm itself committed US$5 billion of capital, which will be funded through Brookfield Infrastructure and Brookfield Renewable Partners LP.

“Any further cost overruns would make Trans Mountain an unattractive M&A candidate for existing Canadian infrastructure companies,” Gillies said in a note to clients:

  • Pension and private equity funds also could also look at the project, however the former may face ESG-related headwinds given the Trans Mountain pipeline ships crude from Canada’s oil-sands, Gillies said.
  • Various Indigenous groups to also pursue Trans Mountain, he said adding that the pipeline company now has agreements with 58 First Nations groups, up from 43.
  • Pembina Pipeline Corp. could “at least review the transaction” given its enterprise value of $44 billion
  • Pipeline giants TC Energy Corp. and Enbridge Inc. may not be in the market for large-scale deals and could require equity financings