TransCanada to move materials, prep sites for Keystone XL

TransCanada stockpiling pipe south of Shaunavon for the Keystone XL pipeline, July 8, 2011. Photo By BRIAN ZINCHUK

PIERRE (AP) — The Keystone XL oil pipeline developer said in a letter this week to a Native American tribal chairman that the company will start moving materials and preparing construction sites for the project in Montana and South Dakota.

TransCanada Corp. said in the letter to Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier, of South Dakota, that the work would start in July and go through the fall. The chairman on Thursday tweeted copies of TransCanada’s message and his response on the tribe’s letterhead: “We will be waiting.”

Frazier wasn’t immediately available on Friday to comment to The Associated Press. Keystone XL faces intense resistance from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some landowners along the route.

The project would cost an estimated $8 billion. The 1,179-mile pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with lines to carry oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said in an email that the preparatory work will ramp up over the year to position TransCanada for construction in 2019. He said it would include moving pipe and equipment to start clearing activities to prepare for getting final permits and approvals for construction.

But the project faces legal hurdles. Nebraska landowners have filed a lawsuit challenging the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s decision to approve a route through the state.

A separate federal lawsuit brought by Montana landowners and environmental groups seeks to overturn President Donald Trump’s decision to grant a presidential permit for the project, which was necessary because it would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

South Dakota’s Supreme Court in June dismissed an appeal from pipeline opponents — including the Cheyenne River Sioux — of a judge’s decision last year upholding regulators’ approval for the pipeline to cross the state.

By Associated Press

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Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Approves Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project

According to Enbridge, the multibillion-dollar Line 3 replacement represents the largest project in the company’s history. Here, contractors work near Superior, Wis. MPR News

Minnesota regulators have approved Enbridge’s proposal to replace its Line 3 pipeline across the northern part of the state.

According to media reports, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the $9-billion Enbridge Line 3 replacement project on Thursday afternoon.

MPR News says the decision came with several conditions, including a decommissioning trust fund to ensure the new pipeline will be retired responsibly decades from now. Enbridge will also be required to follow through on a promise to landowners to remove portions of the old Line 3 upon request.

The Globe and Mail reports, a narrow 3-2 decision approved Enbridge’s preferred route for the pipeline, south of the existing corridor, with only slight modifications, meaning the company dodges the potential for lengthy delays and added costs of alternatives.

Indigenous tribes and environmental groups vowed immediately to appeal the decision and maintain their resistance to the project.

In a sign of potential clashes ahead, the commission was interrupted midway through Thursday’s deliberations in St. Paul, Minn., by shouts that it had “declared war on the Ojibwe.”

Native american activists and environmentalists oppose the project, saying it’s unnecessary and would risk spills in pristine areas of the state.

Line 3 also requires 29 additional permits from local, state and federal levels, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement. “Approvals are by no means assured,” he said.

Appeals of the commission’s decisions go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Minnesota Legislature also could intervene when it reconvenes next year. Dayton vetoed a bill last session that would have let Enbridge bypass the commission and proceed with replacing Line 3. But voters will elect a new governor and a new Legislature in November.

The total length of the Line 3 replacement is 1,031-mile (1,660-km) from Alberta in western Canada to Wisconsin.

Estimated 230,000 gallons of crude oil spills into Iowa river after Train derailment 

Tanker cars carrying Alberta crude oil are shown derailed in Lyon County, Iowa, Friday. (Photo Sioux City Journal via AP)

Train carrying tanker cars of tar sands oil from Alberta to Oklahoma derails along flooded Iowa river

A train derailment has spilled an estimated 230,000 gallons of Alberta crude oil into the floodwaters of the Rock River, in Iowa, resulting in a disaster declaration from the governor and a massive clean-up operation.

The train derailed around 4:30am Friday, near Doon, in Lyon County. There were no injuries.

Oil spilled into the river after 32 tanker cars derailed. The train’s operator BNSF said 14 of the derailed cars had leaked oil, according to Lyon County Daily News.

The derailment forced evacuations of nearby homes and raised concerns about drinking water contamination. Rock Valley, a small city just to the southwest of Doon shut off all its drinking water wells.

Crews spent Saturday containing the spill and building a temporary road to move equipment to the crash site to make it easier to remove the piled-up train cars and advance the cleanup, the Sioux City Journal reported.

Crews work to clean up the BNSF railway after a 32-car derailment along banks of the Rock River south of Doon, Iowa.

BNSF spokesman Andy Williams said the cleanup and recovery were still in the early stages.

A disaster proclamation issued by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for Lyon and three other counties in response to the train derailment placed the blame on rain-fueled flooding.

The nearby Little Rock River rose rapidly after heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday. The Little Rock River flows into the Rock River which caused overflow on its banks along the route of the train tracks.

Some officials have speculated that floodwaters eroded soil beneath the train track. The cause has not been confirmed.

According to The Associated Press, the train was carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, to Stroud, Oklahoma, for ConocoPhillips. ConocoPhillips spokesman Daren Beaudo said each tanker can hold more than 25,000 gallons (20,817 imperial gallons) of oil.

CTV News is reporting almost half of the oil spill – an estimated 100,000 gallons (378,530 liters) – has been contained at the site using booms close to the derailment site. An additional boom has been placed about five miles (8.05 kilometers) downstream.

BNSF did not respond to questions on Sunday about the progress of the cleanup.

The Sioux County Sheriff posted a video depicting the aftermath of the derailment near Doon on Facebook:

Spill at Trans Mountain pipeline station in B.C. larger than initially reported

A spill from Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline late last month was 48 times larger than initially reported, officials said.

The spill volume reported from the company’s Darfield station north of Kamloops on May 27 was revised to 4,800 litres from 100 litres, the B.C. Ministry of Environment said Sunday.

It said 100 litres is the minimum threshold under the company’s spill reporting obligations, so that’s why the ministry estimated 100 litres at the time.

Trans Mountain spokeswoman Ali Hounsell said the company didn’t tell regulators how much medium crude oil escaped at the time of the spill.

“Trans Mountain had not provided an estimate of the volume spilled, other than to confirm with regulators that it was over the reportable threshold, until cleanup had sufficiently progressed to a stage where an accurate estimation could be provided,” she said in an e-mail.

Following an on-site investigation, she said Trans Mountain has provided the updated volume estimate to regulators.

Trans Mountain is in the final stages of completing the cleanup, she said.

Under British Columbia’s spill reporting regulation, Trans Mountain was required to report the spill immediately. The regulation says the quantity spilled should be among the information included in that report, “to the extent practical.”

The company turned off the pipeline for several hours the day of the spill, which the ministry said came from a leaking flow metre.

The spill was contained to the station property and no waterways were affected, the ministry said.

Two days later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will spend $4.5-billion to buy the Trans Mountain expansion and Kinder Morgan Canada’s core assets.

Kinder Morgan had ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain expansion in April, vowing to cancel it unless it received assurances it can proceed without delays and without undue risk to shareholders by a deadline of May 31.

After the federal government’s announcement, the company said work would be restarted soon, with the government funding construction. The sale is expected to close in the second half of the year.

The Canadian Press

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Liberal government to buy Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion

Finance Minister Bill Morneau arrives at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.

The Federal Liberal government is spending $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan.

The deal includes all of Kinder Morgan Canada’s core assets. The purchase ensures that the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries oil from Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia will begin a planned expansion this summer.

According to CBC News, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced details of the agreement reached with Kinder Morgan at a news conference with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr this morning.

Morneau said the project is in the national interest, and proceeding with it will preserve jobs, reassure investors and get resources to world markets. He could not say exactly what additional costs will be incurred by the Canadian public to build the expansion, but suggested a toll paid by oil companies could offset some costs and that there would be a financial return on the investment.

The purchase price does not include the construction costs of the Trans Mountain expansion so the final bill to Canadian taxpayers will be significantly higher once labour and materials are included.

Kinder Morgan had estimated the cost of building the expansion would be $7.4 billion, but Morneau insisted that the project will not have a fiscal impact, or “hit.”

Alberta will also provide emergency funding to cover unforeseen costs.

The government does not intend to be a long-term owner, and at the appropriate time, the government will work with investors to transfer the project and related assets to a new owner or owners.

However, Kinder Morgan will be paid regardless of whether a new suitor is found.

Until then, the pipeline project will proceed under the ownership of a Crown corporation.

The agreement, which must still be approved by Kinder Morgan’s shareholders, is expected to close in August.

Crude oil spill confirmed at Kinder Morgan facility north of Kamloops

The Darfield pump station is about 80 kilometres north of Kamloops, B.C.

100 litres of crude oil leaked at Trans Mountain site in Darfield 

A B.C. Ministry of Environment spokesman confirmed 100 litres of oil was spilled at Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline Darfield facility, just north of Kamloops on Sunday morning.

The oil leaked from a flow metre and was reported to authorities just before 5 a.m.

According to media reports the spill did not leak into any waterways and was completely contained within Trans Mountain’s facility. The leaked product was a medium crude blend.

As a precaution, the main Trans Mountain Pipeline was shut down after the spill.

Trans Mountain officials said following inspections, the pipeline was restarted at about 3:20 p.m.

Neighbours and other stakeholders were notified about the incident.

The spill comes just days before Kinder Morgan’s self-imposed May 31 deadline that would see the Calgary-based company potentially walk away from the project unless the company is given political certainty allowing it to proceed.

Darfield, is a rural community along B.C.’s North Thompson River that’s about 80 kilometres north of Kamloops.

Kinder Morgan Warns of ‘Significant’ Delay After Court Urged to Consider Release of Trudeau Government Secrets

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at the House of Commons in Ottawa on April 25, 2018 for the daily question period. Photo by Alex Tétreault

This article was originally published by National Observer

A lawyer for energy giant Kinder Morgan is warning that its Trans Mountain expansion project is facing “significant and unwarranted delay” following an unexpected legal letter filed Thursday in the wake of dramatic revelations reported by National Observer about the project’s approval by the Trudeau government.

Maureen Killoran, a Canadian lawyer for the Texas-based company, drafted the warning in a letter filed Friday with the Federal Court of Appeal in response to a request filed on Thursday by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in B.C..

The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the Kinder Morgan project at the Federal Court of Appeal, arguing that the government failed in its legal duty to consult First Nations prior to making its decision. In a letter sent to the court on Thursday, Scott Smith, a lawyer representing the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN), wrote that two recent reports by National Observer confirm allegations it had previously raised that Trudeau’s government acted in “bad faith” and is withholding documents that show what happened during its internal review.

As a result, Smith sent a letter to the court, giving notice that it intended to introduce a motion to compel the Trudeau government to cough up its secret records about the review of the pipeline project.

“It is TWN’s position that such new evidence of bad faith and dishonorable conduct by Canada… would be directly relevant to the Court’s consideration of whether Canada discharged its duty to consult TWN,” Smith wrote in a letter to the court dated April 26.

The request from Smith is unusual, given that the case had already been heard last fall with a decision expected by the court this spring. But Smith argued in his letter that there was a legal precedent for the court to address the new allegations raised in reports from National Observer.

In his submission, Smith cited a report published by National Observer on April 18 that revealed federal officials sped up their timeline for the review of the Trans Mountain project following a phone call from Kinder Morgan Canada’s president Ian Anderson. He also cited a report published by National Observer on April 24 that quoted public servants who said they were instructed to find a way to approve the project during an internal meeting

“In short, it would appear that this evidence, which was not disclosed and in regard to which TWN had no prior knowledge, corroborates TWN’s allegation and suggest, in the words of the relevant media coverage, that internal federal government employees were instructed ‘at least one month before the pipeline was approved, to give cabinet a legally-sound basis to say ‘yes’ to Trans Mountain… at a time when the government claimed it was still consulting in good faith with First Nations and had not yet come to a final decision on the pipeline,” Smith wrote.

The court responded to Smith’s letter promptly, asking the federal government and other stakeholders to provide their responses to the request by the end of the day on Friday.

In her response, Killoran said it was too late.

“Based on information contained in two articles published in the National Observer, TWN now seeks to gather additional evidence more than six months following the close of submissions,” she wrote. “The relief sought by TWN will introduce significant and unwarranted delay.”

Killoran also noted that the Tsleil-Waututh Nation had previously requested the release of documents through a motion that was rejected by the court in June 2017 “because (among other things) it was not persuaded that Canada withheld any information that was required to be produced. The Court also noted that TWN had an opportunity to test Canada’s document production, and/or seek additional documents, on cross examination.

“Finally, there are no exceptional circumstances that justify reopening the evidentiary record for the consolidated proceedings,” Killoran wrote. “On the contrary, it is highly unlikely that the motion will uncover additional producible evidence; even if such evidence exists (which is denied), it has no influence on the outcome of this case.”

Justice Department proposes two-week process to handle Tsleil-Waututh motion

The federal government responded at the end of the day with a statement that didn’t address any of the allegations raised in the National Observer reports directly. It also proposed a two-week process to deal with the motion and responses from the affected parties.

“Canada takes no position on whether TWN ought to be permitted to bring this motion at this late date, over six months after the hearing of these proceedings has concluded,” wrote Jan Brongers, senior general counsel from the B.C. regional office of the federal government’s Justice Department.

“That said, on the basis of the description of the proposed motion set out in the TWN Letter, Canada does not agree that it is the type of ‘urgent motion, such as requests for emergency injunctive relief’ that the Court contemplated would be governed by… the Procedural Order. Rather, the motion appears to constitute a further attempt by TWN to seek supplemental evidence.”

Brongers letter also echoed concerns raised by Kinder Morgan that the motion could lead to more delays.

“Canada notes that TWN’s proposed motion has the potential to delay adjudication of the consolidated proceedings, which, as noted above, have already been under reserve for a considerable time,” Brongers wrote. “Accordingly, Canada submits that if TWN is permitted to bring this motion at this late date, it ought to be filed and served forthwith.”

April 27th 2018

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Appeals Court Allows ‘Necessity Defense’ for Pipeline Protesters in Minnesota

Climate activists Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein shut down Enbridge’s tar sands pipelines 4 and 67 in Minnesota on Oct. 11, 2016. Climate Direct Action

Enbridge pipeline protesters claim threat of climate change made civil disobedience necessary

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that four anti-pipeline activists facing criminal charges have a legit case to argue the “necessity defense” in court.

According to EcoWatch, the so-called “Valve Turners” Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein were charged after shutting off the emergency valves on a pair of tar sands pipelines owned by Enbridge Energy.

The pipelines targeted were Enbridge line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota.

Johnston and Klapstein, and the two defendants who filmed them in October 2016, argue their actions to stop the flow of the polluting bitumen from Canadian tar sands fields to the U.S. were justified due to the threat of climate change and had no legal alternatives. They plan to call expert witnesses who will back them up.

Prosecutors had challenged the decision to allow the “necessity defense” arguing its inclusion would confuse a jury and be less likely to result in a conviction, but the Court ruled 2-1 against them. The state can ask the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

While District Judge Robert Tiffany allowed the necessity defense, he also warned in a ruling in October that the four must clear a high legal bar to succeed.

Another hurdle is that the jury will come from a sparsely populated county where Enbridge is a major employer and the largest property taxpayer.

Johnston and Klapstein face felony charges of criminal damage to critical public service facilities and other counts.

Attorneys expect the judge to set trial dates for sometime this summer in Clearwater County.

The necessity defense has worked for climate activists before.

Last month, a Massachusetts judge found 13 activists who were arrested for sitting in holes dug for a pipeline to block construction “not responsible by reason of necessity” because the action was taken to avoid serious climate damage.

Kinder Morgan says investment in oil pipeline expansion may be untenable

Replacement pipe is stored near crude oil storage tanks at Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline terminal in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/File Photo

(Reuters) – Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N) said on Wednesday that recent events confirm an investment in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion may be “untenable” and said Ottawa’s pledge of financial support does not resolve political risk related to British Columbia’s opposition.

The comments come as the British Columbia (B.C.) government pledged to file a legal challenge by month-end to determine whether it has the jurisdiction to stop the C$7.4 billion ($5.9 billion) project, which was approved by the federal government in 2016 and would nearly triple capacity on the pipeline from Alberta to a Vancouver-area port.

Kinder Morgan Canada (KML.TO), a unit of Kinder Morgan, halted most spending on the expansion earlier this month and set a May 31 deadline to decide if it would scrap the project entirely, citing legal and jurisdictional issues.

“As we said then, it’s become clear this particular investment may be untenable for a private party to undertake. The events of the last 10 days have confirmed those views,” Chief Executive Steven Kean said on a conference call.

While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada is prepared to offer financial aid to ensure the project goes ahead, Kean dodged a question about whether that support would ensure construction.

“They’re really two separate things,” he said. “Most of the investment is in British Columbia, where the government is in opposition to the project … That is an issue that, in our view, needs to be resolved.”

The Trans Mountain expansion is considered crucial for Alberta’s oil industry which has been beset by transportation bottlenecks. It is fiercely opposed by some B.C. cities, some aboriginal groups, and environmentalists concerned about possible oil spills.

M&A ON THE TABLE

The company said while it is not in a position to move on takeovers until the uncertainty around Trans Mountain is resolved, it sees good opportunities in the western Canadian midstream space.

“There are some very capable players with good midstream assets,” Kean said, adding: “Intent is, and was, that KML would be the vehicle to invest in those opportunities.”

The company has a strong balance sheet and is well positioned for takeovers, especially if cash earmarked for capital projects is freed up, said M. Paul Bloom, investment manager with Bloom Investment Counsel.

“I think you can expect if the Trans Mountain pipeline does not go ahead (Kinder Morgan) will be bidders for various assets here in Canada, and probably fairly quickly as well,” he said.

Kinder Morgan Canada, which was spun off from parent Kinder Morgan in May last year, reported a net income of C$44.4 million ($35.17 million) for the first quarter ended March 31, down from C$46.8 million for the same period last year.

Texas-based Kinder Morgan separately reported net income available to common stockholders of $485 million, or 22 cents per share, in the quarter to the end of March, compared with $401 million, or 18 cents per share, a year earlier.

[SOURCE]

 

‘We want to be owners’: Fort McMurray First Nations and Métis unite on pipelines

The Fort McMurray regions’s 10 First Nations and Métis community say they want to be pipeline owners. (Terray Sylvester/Reuters)

‘Let’s move on and let’s start building a pipeline and start moving the oil’

First Nations and Métis communities in the Fort McMurray region are expressing interest in becoming business partners in the pipeline industry.

The indigenous communities want to either buy a stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline or partner and build another future line.

“We want to be owners of a pipeline,” Allan Adam, chief of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said in an interview. “We think that a pipeline is a critical component to the oil and gas sector, especially in this region.”

“If Fort McMurray and Alberta are going to survive, the Athabasca Tribal Council has to be alongside.”

Adam, a board member with the Athabasca Tribal Council, an umbrella organization that represents the regions’s five First Nations, admitted, the details still need to be worked out.

Ron Quintal, president of the Athabasca River Métis, the organization that represents five Métis communities in the region, confirms it too is on board with the proposal.

But, Quintal said, he expects they would need backers to help guarantee loans to help fund the multi-billion dollar project.

Tired of fighting oil companies

The announcement happened on the heels of the groups’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the basement of a Fort McMurray hotel on Friday.

Participants say it was the first time region’s Cree, Dene and Métis communities met together with the head of the federal government. Typically such high level meetings don’t take place together.

Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, says the Fort McMurray region’s First Nation and Métis communities back pipelines and they want to own one. (The Canadian Press)

Also in the background is the uncertainty over the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion which would ship bitumen from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

On Sunday, Kinder Morgan announced it will halt “non-essential activities” and related spending on the project and set a May 31 deadline to decide whether the project will proceed. The company declined to comment for this story.

Premier Rachel Notley said the May deadline is a serious concern and suggested Alberta may become a co-owner in the pipeline’s construction.

The announcement from Adam is a change in position for the chief who is no stranger to pipeline opposition. The chief has posed with celebrities and activists critical of the oilsands’ environmental legacy.

Most recently, Adam was pictured with Hollywood actress Jane Fonda who described the oilsands on a 2016 trip to Fort McMurray as if “someone took my skin and peeled it off my body over a very large surface.”

Adam denied he was ever anti-pipeline or against the oilsands, rather the chief said he is critical of the feverish pace the oilsands developed without environmental considerations.

But, Adam also admitted fighting oil companies and industry has been tough and it’s time for a change.

“The fact is I am tired. I am tired of fighting. We have accomplished what we have accomplished,” Adam said. “Now let’s move on and let’s start building a pipeline and start moving the oil that’s here already.”

Archie Waquan, chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, also supports a pipeline partnership.

“No disrespect to the other First Nations that are against the pipeline in B.C.,” Waquan said.

“From our end — from this northern territory where the oilsands comes from — we would like to see more things happen and hopefully this will go ahead.”

Ultimately we are the keepers of the land

The region’s Métis communities say their Indigenous pipeline ownership would help alleviate the roadblocks the oil and gas infrastructure have been facing lately.

Elaborating, Quintal said, First Nations and Métis would provide ease of access for the pipeline route on their traditional territory.

Also, he said, Indigenous owners would take the upmost care to ensure the pipeline route would avoid sacred or sensitive areas and the infrastructure is maintained to the highest standards to prevent spills.

Chiefs and heads of the Athabasca Tribal Council and the Athabasca River Métis Council pose after a meeting Tuesday at Fort McMurray’s Raddison Hotel where they announced they are willing invest in pipelines. (David Thurton/CBC)

“From our perspective, the Métis have always for the most part been pro-pipeline,” Quintal said. But, “I am not saying that it’s an open book or a blank cheque for the industry to develop pipelines.”

“Ultimately we are the keepers of the land and it is of the upmost importance that lands are protected as much as possible.”

Quintal also said, Indigenous owners behind a pipeline, might also lend credibility that could quell some of the opposition.

This article was originally published by David Thurton  · CBC News · Posted: Apr 15, 2018

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