04 September 2018

Pipeline hits more legal problems as Canadian court reverses approval

The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal rejects Trans Mountain 'flawed' expansion plans, wants indigenous people consulted.

The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal said the National Energy Board (NEB) assessment of the project was flawed and failed to consult Indigenous people. The decision said the court would quash a previous approval from November 2016 and remit the matter back to the governor in council so that the problems could be addressed.

Legal problems

The expansion had been expected to come online in the first half of 2021, but the construction has been delayed due to legal problems, with this decision being the latest setback. Canada's NEB said in statement that the Court's ruling nullifies its certification of the Trans Mountain expansion, saying ‘the NEB appreciates having the Court's direction and will take the time required to fully read and review the Court's decision.’ Trans Mountain expansion officials also issued a statement, which said the project is taking measures to suspend construction in a safe and orderly manner and that it is reviewing the Court decision with Canada's government and assessing next steps.  Their statement read, ‘we remain committed to building this project in consideration of communities and the environment, with meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples and for the benefit of Canadians.’

Three pipeline projects

Kinder Morgan's expansion of theTrans Mountain pipeline is one of three new pipelines Western Canadian producers expect to boost their export of crude. The Canadian government said in late May it will buy Kinder Morgan's 300,000 barrels a day pipeline and 590,000 barrels a day expansion project for $3.5 billion. The other expected projects are Calgary-based Enbridge's Line 3 replacement and the  much-publicised Keystone XL pipeline of TransCanada. Trans Mountain is key to exporting crude from the oil sands to Asia through British Columbia, with expansion originally scheduled to start up in December 2020.