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Nov 12, 2019

'We'll believe it when we see it': Imperial CEO says oil patch is losing patience on Trans Mountain

Imperial Oil's Rich Kruger on Trans Mountain: We'll see it when we believe it

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Canada’s energy producers are growing more skeptical on the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, according to the chief executive officer of Imperial Oil Limited.

“I think the industry has largely gotten to the point where we’ll believe it when we see it,” Imperial CEO Rich Kruger told BNN Bloomberg in a Tuesday interview.

“The federal government has been clear and consistent in its support for [Trans Mountain]. Certainly the industry is looking for it. We need expanded access and if you ask me to bet on exactly when (that will occur), I’m not quite as confident,” he said.

Kruger – who has served as Imperial CEO since 2013 – is retiring from his post at the end of 2019.

Speaking at the company’s Investor Day in Toronto on Tuesday, Kruger said production curtailments instituted by Rachel Notley’s NDP government in Alberta have kept the company from committing to any large-scale investments this year. Current Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has begun easing those restrictions.

The challenges facing the industry – primarily market access and Canada’s regulatory framework – are largely affecting the ability to draw foreign investment, Kruger told BNN Bloomberg.

“The timeframes it takes, the cost, and, when you get approvals: Are they enforceable? Do they allow you to advance projects? We have an issue with that across our country,” he said. 

However, Kruger told BNN Bloomberg that the energy industry can do a better job to curry favour from its opponents by outlining how it is trying to modernize and adapt its environmental practices.

“What are we doing to address concerns in society, whether that’s carbon emissions, or - in the oil sands - whether that’s water use or land use?” he asked. “How can we be collaborative and achieve mutual objectives? In this particular case, for this industry, this is a major opportunity not only for the West, but for Canada overall.”

“It’s not to say that ‘you can’t live without us,’ but to help society understand: ‘How can you live with us?’”