Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta., Tuesday, June 18, 2019. The question of does Canada still need another pipeline outside of Line 3 and Trans Mountain was one federal officials asked days after United States President Joe Biden cancelled the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta., Tuesday, June 18, 2019. The question of does Canada still need another pipeline outside of Line 3 and Trans Mountain was one federal officials asked days after United States President Joe Biden cancelled the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Does Canada need another pipeline, feds ask days after Biden cancels Keystone XL

Western Canada’s oil and gas sector see cancellation as a blow to a reeling industry

Federal officials were asking themselves how many pipelines does Canada really need in the days after U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled Keystone XL.

The query was posed in a briefing note from Natural Resources Canada and released to The Canadian Press under federal access-to-information legislation.

The document, addressed to the department’s deputy minister, was prepared in anticipation of meetings with those affected by Biden’s January decision, including an Alberta government official, Keystone XL owner TC Energy and others in the industry.

Construction in Alberta had already begun on the 1,947-kilometre pipeline designed to send 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Hardisty, Alta, to Steele City, Neb., when Biden scrapped the project’s permit on his first official day in the White House.

Biden was fulfilling a campaign pledge but those in western Canada’s oil and gas sector, including its elected representatives, felt the move as a blow to an industry already reeling from job losses and economic headwinds beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahead of the late January meetings to discuss the cancellation with stakeholders, the federal natural resources department briefing note posed some questions: “Do you believe Canada still requires additional export capacity beyond (TransMountain) and Line 3? What do you see as the likely routes to putting it in place?”

Asked that question Thursday, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister replied frankly: “I don’t know.”

“I think the market will decide that and I think investors will decide that,” Seamus O’Regan said during an announcement for hydrogen fuelling stations for heavy trucks in Alberta.

He pointed to the fact he was even talking about hydrogen as a source of transportation fuel as an example of the transformation in the energy sector. O’Regan also referred to a report from the International Energy Agency, stating that for global energy sectors to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 — which Canada has pledged to do — there should be no new oil and gas developments approved.

The minister said he doesn’t fully agree because he sees a future with emissions-reducing technologies like carbon capture and storage, and knows energy companies are making improvements on their own.

“We are singularly focused on lower emissions,” he said.

“That is what we are focused on, that is what we are working with our industry on here to make sure that they are lowering emissions to increase their competitiveness in the world marketplace.”

Whether Canada needs another pipeline remains a controversial question.

Adding to that is the reality that Ottawa, as well as major nations like United States, are setting higher targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions and pushing policies like the shift to electric vehicles in an effort to boost the fight against climate change.

Besides the now-dead Keystone XL, Canada’s other main pipeline projects are Trans Mountain and Line 3.

Last November, the Canada Energy Regulator suggested not all would be needed, if Canada keeps implementing more climate polices.

The Trudeau government paid $4.5 billion to Kinder Morgan Canada to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline to provide certainty that a planned expansion from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., would go ahead after court battles delayed construction.

Calgary-based Enbridge is also facing opposition over its nearly finished Line 3 replacement project, which carries crude oil from Alberta into Wisconsin.

Enbridge is also currently fighting in a Michigan court against state Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who wants to shut down the long operating Canada-U.S. Line 5 pipeline over environmental concerns around the Great Lakes.

Tim McMillian, CEO and president of The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers — among the stakeholders Ottawa talked to about Keystone XL’s cancellation — says for many Canadians, Line 5’s uncertainty underscores the need for a solid pipeline network that moves energy west and south, as well as east.

He believes more export capacity is needed because, over the next two decades, the International Energy Agency projects the global demand for gas will increase, as it will for oil until at least 2030 before flattening out closer to 2040.

“The global demand increase most certainly will be looking for supply. Is Canada the right place to be the supply or should we letting the other nine large (oil and gas producing countries) … be the ones that step in and offer that supply?” he said.

“I would hope that our federal government is believing that Canadian innovation, Canadian science, Canadian resources are the right answer for the future.”

—Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

RELATED: TC Energy cutting more than 1,000 Keystone XL construction jobs as Biden pulls permit

RELATED: ‘Keystone is dead’: former senior Obama adviser

energy sectorKeystone XLPipeline

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Holger Schwichtenberg and his son Philip talk in the barn of the 150-acre Schwichtenberg farm. This farm is one of many throughout B.C. that support more than 12,500 jobs across the province in the dairy industry. (Contributed Photo/B.C. Dairy Association)
Agassiz dairy farm a model of care for environment, animals, and family

Farm is part of a dairy sector centred in the Fraser Valley, supporting 12,500 jobs province-wide

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

The Great Gordini puts on a magic show for an avid audience during the first Storytime in the Park in this 2019 photo. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Storytime in the Park returns this summer

Day 1 registration is on June 30

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

Most Read