CALGARY — The federal government’s open-ended timeline for additional consultations on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is intended to ensure “good-faith” dialogue with Indigenous groups, but the energy industry is frustrated there is no end in sight to the oilpatch’s crippling pipeline capacity issues.
Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Wednesday that Ottawa would not appeal a Federal Court of Appeal decision from August that quashed approvals for the Trans Mountain expansion project, which the federal government bought from Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. for $4.5 billion earlier this year.
“Appealing a decision is not an efficient way to deal with this issue,” Sohi said, adding that instead the federal government would take the advice of the Appeals Court and immediately launch a new round of consultations with 117 affected Indigenous groups along the pipeline route to address the ruling’s key recommendation.
Sohi declined to provide a timeline for the consultations as it would pre-suppose the outcome of the consultations, which will now be led by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci.
“We will not put a stop clock on consultations,” Sohi said. The lack of a hard deadline comes as Canadian oil is selling at a massive discount to U.S. barrels. Data from Bloomberg shows that Western Canada Select was trading near a record US$41.40 per barrel lower than U.S. oil benchmark price of US$76 per barrel on Wednesday.