The recent recommendation from Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) to approve the TransMountain pipeline expansion is a victory for Alberta’s oil sands producers, according to a recent article on Oilprice.com.
This is one of three major pipeline projects, including Energy East and the Northern Gateway, that Alberta’s oil industry wants to see come to fruition. The lack of infrastructure to get Alberta’s oil to tidewater is resulting in Canadian oil selling at a substantial discount to the benchmarks.
While the NEB’s determination that the pipeline is in the public interest is promising, the $6.8 billion project is not yet a done deal; the final decision lies with Prime Minister Trudeau’s government, which has recently increased environmental scrutiny on major energy projects. Further, the NEB’s recommendation for approval comes with the caveat that the project meet “…157 conditions related to the project’s environmental impact and its effects on the lands of First Nations.”
Additional opposition comes from key constituencies in British Columbia, including the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, where the pipeline will terminate. Despite the imposed environmental conditions on the project, residents are concerned about oil spills and increased tanker traffic.
Further, Trudeau’s emphasis on the rights of indigenous communities and his considerably ‘greener’ stance than his predecessors puts him in a difficult position. His final decision will ultimately upset either the oil industry or coastal and indigenous communities.