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Transmountain Pipeline Expansion Project a success?


5 minute read

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Chris Bloomer


The Transmountain Mountain Pipeline expansion project (TMEP) was completed on May 01, 2024. Its startup the following month ended an eleven-year saga of tectonic federal energy policy initiatives, climate change requirements, federal regulatory restructuring, and indigenous reconciliation. That it was finished at all is a triumph, but there was muted celebration.

The original proponent for TMEP was Kinder Morgan (KM), who filed its application with the federal energy regulator in 2013. The expansion would be constructed in the existing right of way of the existing pipeline and increase capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil and refined products to 890,000 barrels of oil per day. This included expansion of the existing dock and loading facilities. Protests began virtually the next day. The cost estimate at that time was $7.4 billion for the 1,150 km pipeline and related facilities. The federal regulator and the federal government approved the project in 2016.

Between 2016 and 2018, the intensity of the protests against TMEP and a new government formed in British Columbia that vowed it would use any means possible to make sure TMX would not be built created significant hurdles. KM warned that the protest’s impact and B.C.’s regulatory and legal challenges were creating significant uncertainty, and the project would be delayed at least a year, stopping all non-essential spending. Ultimately KM decided it would not continue with the project because of the increased execution risk and cost to complete the project that the legal and regulatory challenges, and increasing protests, posed.

The project’s shelving by KM led to the federal government acquiring all the Kinder Morgan assets, including TM for $4.7 billion in 2018. Construction then began in 2019.  The execution risks remained the same with the legal and regulatory challenges. They were compounded by a legal challenge to the substance of the federal government’s consultation with indigenous people, which was their constitutional duty. The courts agreed that the federal government had not met its constitutional duty to consult and ordered that it be redone. This led to further delays and in 2020 the cost estimate increased to $12.6 billion, then increased again to $21.4 billion in 2022. Ultimately, the federal regulator imposed 157 conditions on TMEP that it had to meet before it could operate.

COVID, extensive flooding and regulatory delays led to a further cost increase up to $30.9 billion in 2023. The final updated cost increased to $34 billion in 2024 due to labour costs, inflation, and materials delays.

The foregoing “Coles notes” version of events sets out the challenges endured by TMX as of Thursday, May 23, 2024. It also highlights that delays in a major project like TMEP have a massive impact on costs. But what gets lost in all this is that in 2013 KM, a public company, made a commercial decision to proceed with the project. There was and still is a huge market pull for the pipeline and the incremental oil volumes. There is huge economic and strategic value for Canada that will benefit all sectors of the economy and indigenous communities, who will most likely end with significant pipeline ownership.

Market access for Canada’s oil production in the Pacific markets will change the oil trading dynamics and value for Canadian production. Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world. Canada is among the best in its class for environmental, safety, social and governance of its energy production. Canada is also among the best in pipeline construction and safety. So, who best to execute a monumental project like TMX?

We need to reflect and admire the skill, diligence, and perseverance of everyone involved with bringing to fruition TMX as a world class, state of the art major piece of energy infrastructure.

Yes, TMX is a success but the process through which it had to persevere was a failure and we should reflect and learn from it. In the end, despite the final cost, Canada will reap the economic benefits from TMX for decades because the world needs oil and Canada has lots of it.

Chris Bloomer is a board member of FCPP and the former president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. He has held senior executive positions in the energy industry in Canada and internationally.

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Trump’s Promise Of American Abundance, Fueled By ‘Liquid Gold’

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation



One of the brightest nuggets of policy in Donald Trump’s July 18 acceptance speech to the Republican convention in Milwaukee was his ode to “liquid gold.” That is, oil.

As part of his inflation-fighting plan, Trump offered a gleaming solution: increase energy production, thereby decreasing energy prices. “By slashing energy costs,” Trump declared, “we will in turn reduce the cost of transportation, manufacturing and all household goods.”

He continued: “We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other country by far. We are a nation that has the opportunity to make an absolute fortune with its energy.”

Indeed. According to the Institute for Energy Research (IER) technically recoverable oil resources in the U.S. total 2.136 trillion barrels. At the current price of around $80 a barrel, that’s some $171 trillion. And so, Trump concluded, “we will reduce our debt, $36 trillion.”

As former Alaska governor Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha.” In Palin’s Alaska, oil is so abundant, relative to the population, that everyone gets a check from the state. Last year, it was $1,312. For a family of four, that’s more than $5000. Our goal should be that every American gets such an energy dividend.

Moreover, the abundance of America’s carbon fuels is not limited to oil. According to IER, we have 3.391 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That’s worth $165 trillion.

To be sure, these staggering dollar totals can’t be counted directly against the national debt—or in support of some future tax cut. Yet every dollar of our energy assets would contribute to the economy, and if even 10  percent of the humongous total could be available to the public, we could, in fact, pay off the national debt.

Moreover, thanks to fracking and other enhanced recovery techniques, we keep finding more energy: Human ingenuity has upended old beliefs about energy shortages, ushering in an almost Moore’s Law-ish surge in production.

Indeed, there’s so much oil and gas (and coal) that an emerging school of thought holds that carbon fuels aren’t “fossil” at all, but rather, the product of earth’s vulcanism. The core of this earth, after all, is the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Perhaps all that heat is cooking something.

In any case, we keep finding more oil, and not just in the U.S.

So how, exactly, do we take advantage of this planetary cornucopia? As Palin said, as Trump said, and as the convention crowd chanted, “drill, baby, drill.”

Okay, but what about climate change? Most Republicans don’t worry too much about that, but if Democrats do, they should be reassured that we can capture the carbon and so take it out of the atmosphere. Trees and other green vegetation have been capturing carbon for eons; the element is, in fact, vital to their very existence. Similarly, the human body is 18 percent carbon. Yes, all of us ourselves are carbon sinks.

So we, being smart, can capture vastly more carbon — capturing it in everything from wood to cement, from plastics to nanotubes. These in turn can be landfill, construction materials — maybe even a space elevator.

We can, in fact, establish a a circular carbon economy: carbon fuels extracted, burned, and then recycled back into feedstocks. By this reckoning, carbon fuels are renewable. Such creative thinking can power all those energy-hungry data centers on which Big Tech and AI depend. So there’s the makings of a bipartisan “Grand Carbon Bargain,” uniting mostly blue-state tech with mostly red-state energy. More energy + more tech = more wealth for all.

In Milwaukee, Trump spoke of American “energy dominance,” and that’s great. But with all the energy we can produce and consume, we can speak of economic abundance — and that’s even greater.

James P. Pinkerton served in the White House domestic policy offices of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is the author, most recently, of “The Secret of Directional Investing: Making Money Amidst the Red-Blue Rumble.”

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Jordan Peterson interviews Alberta Premier Danielle Smith

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This episode was recorded on June 29th, 2024

Dr. Peterson’s extensive catalog is available now on DailyWire+:


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