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Sep 10, 2018

Trans Mountain failure would pose 'big risk' to economy: Suncor CEO

Suncor CEO: Trans Mountain failure would pose 'big risk' to economy

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The chief executive of Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO) is urging the government to take “real action” to ensure the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is built, warning that the project’s failure would pose a huge risk for the Canadian economy.

The Federal Court of Appeal dealt a blow to the Trudeau government last month by overturning Ottawa’s approval of  the Trans Mountain project, which seeks to twin an existing pipeline from Edmonton to the B.C. coast.

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg Monday, Suncor President and CEO Steve Williams raised concerns about eroding investor confidence in Canada after Trans Mountain’s latest setback.

“A big risk – it’s very easy to think [Trans Mountain is] just a pipeline,” Williams said, when asked what the risk is to the Canadian economy if the project ultimately fails. “What’s clear to me is there is a question of confidence in Canada’s ability to be able to develop – particularly this project – but on other issues as well.

“People are looking and saying, ‘Can we invest here? Can we have confidence that when we think something’s going to happen, it’s going to happen?’ I think it’s an important moment for Canada to demonstrate that we can get things built.”

Suncor officially unveiled its Fort Hills oil sands mine Monday, its newest mega project which it says will be in full production by the fourth quarter.

Williams said that Fort Hills was built “with confidence” because it already had market access, and suggested that additional crude production commitments will require more certainty over whether future pipelines are coming.

“I continue to be encouraged by words but what we need to see are real actions,” Williams said.

“We’ve got to start doing things that make Canada more competitive. That means more certainty around regulation; it means a more welcoming environment for business and taxation.”