Pipes for the Trans Mountain pipeline project are seen at a storage facility near Hope, B.C., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Pipes for the Trans Mountain pipeline project are seen at a storage facility near Hope, B.C., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canada Energy Regulator projects there may be no need for Trans Mountain expansion

Ottawa bought the existing pipeline for $4.4 billion in 2018

A new report from the Canada Energy Regulator projects that if Canada strengthens its climate policies to cut more greenhouse-gas emissions, it could eliminate the need for both the Trans Mountain expansion and the new Keystone XL pipeline.

The Energy Futures report, issued Tuesday, estimates energy production and consumption through 2050, based on two scenarios: one in which no more climate policies are introduced after this year and an “evolving” one where more initiatives are added to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

Under the status quo scenario, the regulator projects the three pipelines under construction — Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and Enbridge Line 3 — will be the last ones needed to handle future growth in crude oil production. Under the evolving scenario, crude production still grows about 18 per cent before peaking in 2039, but the report says Line 3 alone is enough added capacity to handle that increase.

Cam Fenton, Canada team lead at 350.org (named for a “safe” level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) pointed out regulator twice recommended the government approve the Trans Mountain expansion, but is now projecting that Prime Minister Justin “Trudeau’s own actions on climate could make the pipeline he bought unnecessary.”

However Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said not going ahead with all three pipelines would be a mistake.

He said stopping pipeline capacity to handle total maximum annual production doesn’t take into account ebbs and flows of shipments, comparing it to only building freeways using the total number of cars travelling daily, rather than during peak periods.

“That would be an inefficient transportation system,” he said. “In Canada we have struggled with under capacity or full capacity. Neither of those are efficient systems.”

Keystone XL is already in jeopardy because U.S. president-elect Joe Biden promised to rescind Washington’s approval for the cross-border project. Trans Mountain restarted construction in 2019 after pausing in 2018 because of the court decision on federal approval.

The Trudeau cabinet had to approve the Trans Mountain expansion twice, after the Federal Court of Appeal said the first approval lacked sufficient Indigenous consultation and environmental review.

Ottawa bought the existing pipeline for $4.4 billion in 2018, after Kinder Morgan Canada was threatening to walk away from the expansion project amid political opposition that was delaying construction.

Trudeau pledged Canada would expand it, and then sell it back to the private sector.

It’s currently estimated it will cost about $12.6 billion to expand the pipeline by building a nearly parallel version that will almost triple total capacity.

READ MORE: Fossil fuels to decline but remain big player in Canada’s energy use by 2050: report

Tom Gunton, a resource and environmental planning professor at Simon Fraser University, said the status quo scenario in the Energy Futures report is not realistic, since the government just introduced legislation last week to make getting to net zero emissions by 2050 legally binding.

The report itself notes to get to net zero, Canada will have to be more aggressive at moving away from fossil fuels than even what its “evolving” scenario lays out. The report says Canadians will still get almost two-thirds of their energy from fossil fuels by 2050 under the evolving scenario.

Net zero means any emissions still produced are absorbed by nature or technology, rather than left in the atmosphere to contribute to global warming. Gunton said the evolving scenario is the more likely situation in the report, and that scenario makes it pretty clear “you’re not going to need these pipelines, so you should at least defer or shelve construction.”

He said if the projections change, they can be revisited but at the moment we could be spending more than $22 billion to build pipelines that aren’t needed.

Canada Energy Regulator CEO Gitane De Silva told The Canadian Press in an interview that the goal of the report isn’t to comment on existing policy but to paint a picture of where things could go using a variety of assumptions.

“Really, our hope is that this information will help inform that policy process going forward,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the regulator also later clarified that the report is not saying whether or not any specific pipelines should be built, but rather looks at potential crude production based on a number of assumptions. The spokeswoman said the chart is not a forecast, and is not an attempt to assess the optimal capacity for Canada’s pipeline system.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

oil and gasTrans Mountain pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

teaser
Top-10 ‘Maxim’ magazine contest model got her start in Surrey

Kajal Kumar hopes to earn $25K cash prize and a cover photo shoot

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on B.C. highways – checkpoint at Manning Park

Four checkpoints are set up Thursday, May 6 around the province

A woman walks past a long lineup that snaked through the parking lot at the Cloverdale Rec. Centre April 27 after Fraser Health allowed people age 30 and over from “high-transmission neighbourhoods” to access the AstraZeneca shot. The temporary vaccination centre is located on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale now considered a ‘high-transmission area’

Anyone 30 and over can now register for a vaccine

Semiahmoo Rotary Club has announced the winners of its 2021 Service Above Self Surrey Youth (SASSY) Awards. (Contributed image/screenshot)
Surrey/White Rock SASSY Award winners announced

Six youth receive $1,500 for ‘service above self,’ including $500 for charity

This year’s PNE Prize Home is to be built in-place, in South Surrey. (pneprizehome.ca)
PNE’s first-ever built-in-place grand prize home to be constructed in South Surrey

Pandemic-related touring options prompts break from tradition

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Junior A team Coquitlam Express is offering all Tri-City residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 a free ticket to one of their games. (Facebook/Coquitlam Express)
B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

‘We know the only way to get fans back is people getting vaccinated,’ says Express’ general manager Tali Campbell

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s latest COVID-19 restrictions cost thousands of service jobs

Part-time workers set back again by spike in virus spread

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Leaked report shows detailed B.C. COVID-19 data not being released to public

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)
Abbotsford trustee temporarily steps down after sharing post relating COVID masks to slavery

Phil Anderson to receive training to better understand provincial mask mandate after posting picture

B.C. announced the launch of an app May 7 that connects youth struggling with mental health and substance use with “life-saving” social services. (Screen grab)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youth and children launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6-million to fund a virtual care platform

Rex, an elderly golden Labrador retriever, is surrounded by his rescuers in Golden Ears Provincial Park. (Special to The News)
VIDEO: Dog survives plunge over Gold Creek Lower Falls in Maple Ridge

Fire chief asks for visitors to be more cautious in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Amazon has announced the creation of five new facilities in B.C., to employ about 2,000 people. (Amazon/Special to Black Press Media)
Amazon adds new facilities in Langley, Pitt Meadows, Delta, Vancouver

The Vancouver port centre will be the first Amazon centre to feature robotics in B.C.

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Most Read