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Alberta government threatens to reduce oil exports as B.C. pipeline dispute continues

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World Pipelines,

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has threatened B.C. with retaliation if B.C. continues to interfere with the US$7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Reportedly, the Alberta government will introduce legislation to reduce the flow of oil exports to B.C. and, if necessary, Canada. This is not the first time where the province has used their oil and gas exports as leverage to win arguments against other governments and reinforce its political positions.

The inter-provincial dispute became heated in January when the B.C. government proposed limits on shipments of diluted bitumen while it undertook more research on pipeline safety and spill response. B.C. backed down when Notley announced Alberta would suspend all imports of B.C. wine. B.C. claimed it is fully within its rights to protect the Pacific coast from the spill risks associated with the increased tanker traffic that would accompany the project.

The Kinder Morgan project was approved by the Trudeau government in 2016, however, the pipeline has faced constant permit challenges and opposition from the B.C. government ever since. Alberta considers the federally-approved project to be an absolute economic necessity. Notley emphasised how some British Columbians who are concerned about the pipeline’s impact on the environment, seem to not understand that decisions affecting the economy have impacts across Canada, not just Alberta.

The Lower Mainland currently has high gas prices, and B.C. is heavily reliant on Alberta for its fuels. Alberta already ships processed/diluted bitumen and refined products down the existing Trans Mountain pipeline. Approximately 70% of the refined products used in B.C. are supplied by Alberta refineries, meanwhile Ontario refineries in the east receive nearly 75% of their raw feedstock oil from western Canada. The US$7.4 billion pipeline expansion would triple the pipeline’s capacity to 890 000 bpd and mean more Alberta crude would go from Edmonton to the port in Burnaby, B.C, where the refinery is owned by Alberta-based Parkland Fuel Corp.

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