Yes, Virginia, Canada needs more pipelines (Financial Post – December 19, 2019)

Opinion: Demand is what is driving pipeline construction, especially in the United States but also in Russia, China and elsewhere

Early this month, as the federal government returned to work, the Russian and Chinese governments jointly turned on a 3,000-kilometre natural gas pipeline that runs from Siberia to northeast China.

The “Power of Siberia” pipeline is a US$55-billion project whose geopolitical nature the Financial Times noted, characterizing it as “a symbol of Moscow’s diplomatic pivot towards Beijing at a time of worsening relations with the West.” It was that. But it was also a real-time rebuttal to Canadian critics who wonder if Canada “really” needs more pipelines.

As anyone not in hibernation well knows, pipelines have been a political football since at least 2009 when Barack Obama entered the White House. Over the next eight years he artfully blocked Keystone XL.

In this country, both domestic and cross-border pipelines have also been killed by politics and regulation (the Northern Gateway and Energy East) or delayed by court judgments (the Trans Mountain, though construction recently started on that pipeline’s twinning).

In the meantime, Canada’s main competitor for energy investment, the United States, has barrelled ahead with pipeline construction. Data from the International Energy Agency and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers illustrates the divide.

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