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Noah Zivitz

Managing Editor, BNN Bloomberg

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The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) warned Wednesday that the federal government, and taxpayers by consequence, are facing a loss on the 2018 decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline system from Kinder Morgan Inc.

In an updated analysis of the economics of the pipeline project, the PBO estimated its net present value is now suggesting a loss of $600 million. In the PBO’s previous Trans Mountain analysis in December 2020, it estimated the government’s investment was still profitable.

However, since then, Trans Mountain Corp. said the cost of building the Trans Mountain expansion had surged to $21.4 billion from $12.6 billion. It also pushed out the target for construction completion to the third quarter of next year. In February, the government announced that no new taxpayer funding would go toward the expansion.

Adrienne Vaupshas, a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, reiterated Wednesday that the Trans Mountain expansion is in the national interest.

“Independent analyses from both BMO Capital Markets and TD Securities have confirmed that the project remains commercially viable. The federal government intends to launch a divestment process after the project is further de-risked and after economic participation with Indigenous groups has progressed,” she said via email.