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Former TransCanada executive 'optimistic' pipelines will be built

by Gordon Kent (feat. Dennis McConaghy)

Edmonton Journal
December 7, 2017

A former energy industry executive said Thursday all three proposed oil export pipelines will likely be built, but this will require strong support from the federal government.

TransCanada should make a final decision by the end of January to proceed with Keystone XL and Enbridge will probably resolve concerns in Minnesota so it can finish the Line 3 replacement, Dennis McConaghy said following a presentation to the Economics Society of Northern Alberta.

McConaghy, TransCanada’s former executive vice-president of corporate development, is also optimistic Ottawa will enforce the approval it gave last year for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline to the West Coast.

“I’m optimistic they will get built, notwithstanding all the struggles … (The federal government) is going to have to be in court helping Kinder when Kinder is saying to B.C. or Burnaby ‘Give me the permits you have no right to deny me,’ as well as at other levels of litigation,”  he said.

“And they may have to actually support their own approval on the ground to deal with civil disobedience. That’s what lies ahead for them if they’re really going to stand behind their approval.”

The National Energy Board ruled Thursday in favour of Kinder Morgan Canada in its efforts to bypass Burnaby bylaws that stand in the way of the Trans Mountain project.

McConaghy, who was directly involved in conceiving and executing Keystone XL, said the pipelines are enormously important to avoid unnecessary constraints on the oilsands because world oil demand is projected to keep rising until at least 2035.

While he expects growth in the oilsands to come mostly from increased production at existing facilities, this could conflict with Canada’s commitment under the Paris Accord to reduce the country’s annual carbon emissions to 523 megatonnes by 2030 from 722 megatonnes in 2015.

The only way to reach that level is by major interventions, such as requiring Canadians to drive electric cars or heat their homes with electricity that hasn’t been generated by carbon-based fuel, said McConaghy, who has nearly 40 years of experience in energy infrastructure development.

He’s not sure how the country will achieve this goal without major economic disruption, especially when the United States under President Donald Trump is moving away from carbon pricing.

“As a Canadian I’m skeptical they will ever do those interventions … but the government hasn’t ‘fessed up to that.”


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