Economy

BC ready to fight back against Alberta fuel restrictions

BC ready to fight back against Alberta fuel restrictions

Alberta has granted sweeping new powers to its energy minister, including the ability to cut off all exports of oil, natural gas and refined fuels, as the province escalates its trade war with British Columbia.

British Columbia's Prosecution Service is considering criminal charges against dozens of people arrested for protesting Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. But the powers in the new legislation go far beyond restricting oil flowing through the Trans Mountain system.

The Bill would give government authority to require companies to obtain a licence before exporting energy products from Alberta via pipeline, rail or truck, including: natural gas, crude oil, gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Alberta has introduced legislation to restrict the flow of oil and gas to B.C.in the latest move in the Trans Mountain Pipeline battle and the premier says the province will do whatever it takes to get the project built.

The government says companies that do not comply with the licence terms could see fines of up to $10 million per day, $1 million per day for individuals.

"The bill sends a clear message: we will use every tool at our disposal to defend Albertans (and) to defend our resources, " Notley said Monday before introducing the proposed law in the legislature.

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Reducing oil flows from Alberta to B.C. could lead to immediate gas price spikes at the pumps and other higher costs. Now the pipeline transports both crude oil and refined fuels.

About 80,000 barrels of refined fuels go to B.C. each day and if the bill is passed, Notely says it would give Alberta the power to decide what is shipped and where it goes to ensure maximum profitability.

"Bear in mind that the Trans Mountain pipeline does deliver not an insignificant amount of oil to Washington State refineries, so it's not like this wouldn't affect prices in the Pacific Northwest", he said.

"That might be the point at which we're going to have to be a lot more strategic around what products get shipped to what markets by what means, " she said.

Canadian oil producers have been seeking access to markets outside of the US for years, but have seen multiple oil export pipeline projects - such as Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway and TransCanada Corp.'s Energy East pipelines - be rejected or cancelled.

Justin Trudeau took an unscheduled break from a trip overseas to meet with the leaders, and while few details have been made public, the leader said he would use financial and legislative measures to ensure the project proceeds. "We're supportive from the perspective that we need this pipeline impasse resolved".

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Kean also gave an end-of-May deadline for resolving the situation.

Over the weekend, the premiers of both provinces attended an emergency meeting with the prime minister over the Trans Mountain expansion, a $7.4-billion project approved despite opposition from the west coast.

"The larger issue is the crisis in confidence that investors can not rely on the rule of law in Canada for investment of their capital, especially if the government must resort to taking a financial position in the project to ensure it proceeds", Petroleum Services Association of Canada president Tom Whalen said in a release Monday.

One week ago, Kinder Morgan announced it was stopping all non-essential spending due to continued actions from those against the twinning of the pipeline. Earlier this year, Alberta briefly imposed a ban on B.C. wines, but put the illegal sanction on ice after Premier John Horgan announced he'd take their dispute to the court.

But the B.C. government says the expansion and seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic in coastal waters poses environmental and economic risks that are too great.

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