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May 16, 2018

Kinder Morgan wants to know 'country is on side,' not compensation: Portfolio manager

Kinder Morgan doesn't need protection, they want to know things will be smooth sailing: Canoe Financial

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If the federal government really wants to reassure Kinder Morgan Canada that it should move forward with its $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, promising compensation for delays isn’t enough, according to the senior portfolio manager of Canoe Financial.

Rafi Tahmazian said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Wednesday that Ottawa needs to guarantee that interference in the controversial Alberta-B.C. pipeline project won’t stop the pipeline from being built.  

“Kinder wants things back to the way they were. They don’t need any protection or guarantees financially – they want guarantees that there will be physical protection,” Tahmazian said.

“[Kinder wants] to know it will be smooth sailing, and that the country is on side with their project that they want to do from a privately-funded basis. That is not the impression I’m getting.”

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced earlier Wednesday the federal government is willing to “provide indemnity” to any investors – even if Kinder Morgan decides to walk away from the project – to ensure the controversial Alberta-B.C. expansion proceeds.

The announcement comes ahead of Kinder Morgan’s May 31 deadline to provide assurances, after the company last month stopped all non-essential spending to expand Trans Mountain amid mounting opposition from the B.C. government, environmental groups and protestors.

The fight over Trans Mountain has spurred wider criticism about whether government leaders are doing enough to ensure that Canada is a good place to do business.

“They were already muddy, now it’s black,” Tahmazian said, commenting on the optics regarding Canada as an attractive place for energy investments.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s vow to buy the Trans Mountain expansion project outright also sends the wrong message to foreign investors, Tahmazian said.

“Kinder would go away and say we had this great project, we were excited and ready to fund it, and the government didn’t do anything to encourage us to do it,” Tahmazian said. 

“They made it difficult for us because they didn’t address the real issues – to the point where we had sell it to them and they nationalized the pipe. This sounds like something Argentina would do.”