Former TransCanada CEO on new energy regulatory review
The federal government isn’t taking an aggressive enough approach on approving pipeline projects in Canada, and ensuring already approved projects – like the Trans Mountain expansion – don’t face delays, a former CEO of TransCanada says.
“I think that we have a very complicated situation in terms of getting our energy production to market,” Hal Kvisle, former CEO of TransCanada and Talisman, told BNN in an interview Friday. “We’re fraught with delay, we have a government that seems to be biased against these sorts of projects.”
Ottawa unveiled plans Thursday to overhaul its pipeline review process. Kvisle says there’s some elements of the new process that “make a lot of sense,” like creating a two-stage process, but said “there’s this persistent bias” at the federal level when it comes to moving Canada’s oil and gas to market.
The new approval system comes amid mounting trade tensions between B.C. and Alberta over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
B.C. Premier John Horgan has threatened to limit the amount of bitumen transported from Alberta’s oil sands through his province, a move the federal government says impedes on federal jurisdiction.
“What no province can do is infringe upon federal jurisdiction leading to the national interest. We’ve said that. We’ve been clear – and we reiterate that,” Natural Resource Minister Jim Carr told BNN Thursday, in reference to the Trans Mountain spat.
But Kvisle said Carr’s response isn’t forceful enough.
“I think in Canada, we need to realize that we have this enormous endowment of both oil in the oil sands and natural gas in the Montney play – a lot of high value liquids that come with that” he said. “And there’s a global market that is demanding these products. What we need is infrastructure to get that product to market, whether it be in the United States, across Canada, or overseas.”
“I think the federal government needs to say: this pipeline is in the national interest – we need it urgently,” he added, noting the project has already overcome regulatory hurdles. “The government needs to take a much more aggressive position on moving these projects forward. They’re very important to Canada.”
Kvisle said one of his main concerns is “the bureaucracy seems to think there’s an infinite amount of time that can be taken” and that “there’s no regard for the hundreds of millions of dollars that pipeline companies are expected to spend before they find whether a very sensible project can go ahead or not.”
“What Minister Carr has announced could work very, very well if there was an actual commitment to make these things work well and to make them work efficiently,” he added. “We will have to wait and see, but I’m not optimistic.”