Trans Mountain Pipeline company looks for aboriginal investment

Trans Mountain Pipeline
The Trans Mountain Pipeline has received approval from the federal government and the NEB. Trans Mountain photo. 

Trans Mountain Pipeline facing fierce opposition from BC NDP/Green Party government

Kinder Morgan is hoping aboriginal investment in the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion will help ensure the smooth completion of the contentious project, according to the head of the company.

Last month’s murky election results may mean the BC New Democratic Party and Green Party will likely form a minority government.  Both staunchly opposed the pipeline during the election campaign.

Kinder Morgan is hoping support from native communities will help buffer the company from threatened civil disobedience as it prepares to begin construction.

But, many aboriginal communities have fiercely opposed energy infrastructure development through their lands.  The proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion touches over 100 aboriginal communities, some of which have launched legal challenges.

Speaking at an indigenous energy conference, President of Kinder Morgan Canada, Ian Anderson said his company had impressive relationships with Canadian natives.

“As it relates to equity and ownership, I’ve always recognized that it is something that we would be open to,” he said. “I’ve worked for a long time, quietly, to try to assemble support for that on this project, and it didn’t come to fruition, (but) I’ve never ruled it out.”

Anderson says Kinder Morgan is making an effort to listen to aboriginal concerns and form relationships with them based on trust.  But getting aboriginal investment into the company is a challenge due to the substantial resources required.

According to Anderson, the Canadian government can step in to help the communities “build capacity”.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion will almost triple the capacity of the existing pipeline that carries Alberta oilsands crude to West Coast tide waters.

The Canadian oil industry says the pipeline will help producers, who currently lack export routes, get better prices for their crude.

The pipeline expansion has be granted both federal and regulatory approval and has passed an environmental assessment under the former BC government.

Whether a provincial government formed by the NDP and Greens could veto the project is disputed, the province could raise hurdles that may impact construction.

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