So far, the bill for Canada’s decade-old pipeline/oilsands insurgency has been disproportionately borne by private companies and their shareholders. With governments in Ottawa and Alberta stepping in at the 11th hour to salvage the last Canadian oil pipeline still in progress, costs and risks are shifting to taxpayers and consumer.
What could they look like?
The federal government and Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd., the owner of the $7.4-billion proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, are now negotiating the cost of keeping the company from walking away, which it has threatened to do because it can’t take British Columbia’s harassment any longer.
The most plausible scenario is that the federal government accepts to de-risk the project so the company is not on the hook for further delays from lawsuits and other disruptive tactics, said retired TransCanada Corp. senior executive Dennis McConaghy.
In court documents last fall, the company estimated the project had direct costs of $30 million to $35 million a month, plus a projected loss of revenue of about $90 million for every month of delay.
The company has since reduced some of those operating costs, but it may want government to provide an indemnity until the major legal issues are resolved, McConaghy said.