Kinder Morgan suspends 'non-essential' work on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. announced Sunday it was suspending “non-essential” work and related spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project following another weekend of protests in Burnaby.

The decision to temporarily halt work on the project was made to protect shareholders’ funds amid ongoing opposition from protesters and B.C.’s provincial government, according to Kinder Morgan Ltd. CEO and chairman Steve Kean.

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“As (Kinder Morgan) has repeatedly stated, we will be judicious in our use of shareholder funds.  In keeping with that commitment, we have determined that in the current environment, we will not put (Kinder Morgan) shareholders at risk on the remaining project spend,” Kean said in the release.  “A company cannot resolve differences between governments.  While we have succeeded in all legal challenges to date, a company cannot litigate its way to an in-service pipeline amidst jurisdictional differences between governments.”

During the hiatus, Kinder Morgan plans to consult with stakeholders in an attempt to clear a path forward for the expansion project. Consultations will focus on two topics: construction through B.C. and protection of Kinder Morgan shareholders, according to the release.

The expansion project has been given the green light by the federal government and has received support from both the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments. B.C., however, has not given its support and is fighting the project in the courts.

“Since the change in government in June 2017, that government has been clear and public in its intention to use 'every tool in the toolbox' to stop the project.  The uncertainty created by B.C. has not been resolved but instead has escalated into an inter-governmental dispute,” Kean said.

On Saturday, hundreds of protesters descended on Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby terminal. The full-day blockade shut down work at the site. Among those gathered was Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs’ president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

“Clearly they are intimidated and fearful of a strong, unified front between Indigenous leaders and our allies. Kinder Morgan was forced not to issue a prerequisite complaint to the RCMP to enable arrests. Without question, Kinder Morgan backed down today. We were here and we will be back. There is absolutely no way that we are letting Kinder Morgan expand its archaic and dangerous fossil fuel extraction. Today we proudly stood with land defenders to send a strong message to Kinder Morgan, its investors and Trudeau — we will not stand down and we will remain united in our opposition,” he said in a press release.

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