Former Syncrude exec: Time for Ottawa to step in on Trans Mountain spat
The former CEO of Syncrude says it’s about time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stepped into the Trans Mountain rift between British Columbia and Alberta.
“It’s time for governments to really come together and try and resolve this impasse,” former Syncrude President and chief operating officer Jim Carter told BNN Thursday. “Up until now the premier of Alberta has been doing the heavy lifting and it’s time for the feds to come to the party.”
Justin Trudeau announced Thursday that he will meet with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan on Sunday in hopes of resolving the dispute over the proposed pipeline project.
“I’m hopeful that now that the prime minister has become more engaged in the file, personally, that we’ll be able to see our way into making some headway on this whole thing,” Carter told BNN.
The standoff between Alberta and B.C. hit a peak after Kinder Morgan said Sunday it was halting all non-essential spending on its $7.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion project amid mounting opposition from British Columbia.
Kinder Morgan says it will scrap the project unless all legal and jurisdictional challenges are resolved by May 31.
After the lengthy review processes and appeals to meet conditions that have accompanied the federal approval of the Trans Mountain expansion project, Carter said that provinces should abide by those decisions in the interest of foreign investment.
“If we don’t do that then all of the processes are all for naught,” Carter said. “We’re sending a tremendous negative message to the investment community.”
Carter added that B.C.’s efforts to block the expansion call the very notion of confederation into question.
“If, indeed, a province can stop an adjacent province’s products from getting to market, then one has really got to question: Where’s the value on confederation, when it comes to working together on these things?”
Andrew Weaver, the leader of the B.C. Green Party – upon whose support Horgan’s NDP government relies – floated a compromise in a BNN interview Wednesday.
“Let’s talk about [refining in Alberta] as a way forward,” Weaver said. “That is where the jobs are, that is where the economic growth is and that is ultimately what people need: gasoline and oil and jet fuel.”
Carter sees that as a narrow solution when it comes to the global oil market.
“We have to be able to satisfy the demand that’s out there [from] customers and there is a demand for diluted bitumen in the marketplace and other countries have refineries that can handle this kind of crude,” Carter said.
“I think it would be silly for us to think we were just going to produce a single product - a totally upgraded product - and putting that into the market when the demand is there to have something that is not refined to that extent.”
He added that the failure to get the Trans Mountain expansion completed would be a “travesty,” especially if the argument against doing so is environmental.
“The existing pipeline was built somewhere between 1949 and 1953 based on 1940s technology, and it’s been running ever since then without any major serious incidents of spills. And, today, if you thought about the technology we have to apply to these things … All of those risks are far more mitigated today than they were when the original decision was made,” Carter said.