Trans Mountain expansion delayed, needs $8.8B more: report

An extra $8.8 billion is needed to finish the delayed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, according to the company overseeing the project. 

On Friday, Trans Mountain Corporation (TMC) released an updated cost-sharing report showing that the total cost of the project has ballooned from $12.6 billion to $21.4 billion.

The expansion was supposed to be finished this year, but the pandemic and recent flooding in B.C. pushed its completion date to mid-2023.

“The project is advancing with significantly improved safety and environmental management, and with a deep commitment to ensuring (it’s) being built the right way,” said Ian Anderson, the company’s president and CEO.

In June 2019, the Liberal government approved the expansion after buying the pipeline for $4.5 billion a month earlier. Once completed, the controversial project will allow more oil from Alberta to be shipped to ports in B.C. 

Opponents of the the expansion say it could harm the environment. For example, more tanker traffic could threaten whales that live in B.C. waters, according to EcoJustice, an environmental law charity.

The twinned pipeline will have the capacity to transport 890,000 barrels of oil per day, nearly tripling its current capacity. It’s estimated Canada will make $46.7 billion over its 20-year lifetime.

With the pipeline already half built, Ottawa won’t be spending more on it, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Ottawa on Friday.

“TMC will secure the necessary funding to complete the project through third-party financing, either in the public debt markets or with financial institutions,” she said.

“Both BMO Capital Markets and TD Securities have been engaged by the government to provide advice on financial aspects of the project.”

The two financial institutions have said the project remains commercially viable, Freeland added.

Sean Strickland, executive director of Canada’s Building Trades Union, said he was encouraged by Freeland’s commitment to the project and that public money wouldn’t be used to cover the shortfall.

“This is a nation-building project,” Strickland said in a statement Friday.

“The revenue generated from the project will provide our government with the money to reinvest in renewable energy and technology to achieve our climate goals. It will be all Canadians who benefit from the royalties and the thousands of construction jobs it has and will continue to create.”

This article was updated at 3:54 p.m. to include a statement from Canada’s Building Trades Union.

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