An opinion released today, Feb. 1, 2018 by the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce on the B.C. government’s decision to restrict pipeline shipments of bitumen to current levels while it conducts spill response studies.
THE KAMLOOPS Chamber of Commerce is disappointed at the ongoing obstructionism demonstrated by the provincial government. Energy and its related products are a significant part of British Columbia’s and Canada’s annual exports.
Through development of expanded pipeline infrastructure, such as Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP), our oil resources can create exceptional opportunities for B.C.’s small and medium-sized enterprises, serve as an important source of near-term and long-term job creation and generate lasting benefit for the province, municipal governments and their communities.
This infrastructure is critical to both the B.C. and Canadian economy, with the ability to transform Canadian oil producers from price takers to price makers in international markets. In 2013, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce produced a study highlighting the fact that, due to the lack of infrastructure to markets other than the U.S., Canadian producers must sell their products at a discounted price, which can cost our economy up to $50 million a day. This price differential, which takes away potential tax revenues that could be used to provide services for the people of Canada, should be a concern for everyone.
The $7.4 billion Trans Mountain Expansion Project is a key to unlocking that wealth. Through the expanded pipeline, oil producers gain increased access to tidewater and see their product transported to new markets that would pay world rather than North American domestic prices. Despite a fallback in oil prices, the NEB estimates oilsands output will double by 2040 — and compensate for a long-term decline in conventional oil production. This demonstrates the ongoing need for the Project — producers need a safe, reliable and cost-effective way to get this oil to market, and a pipeline is the best option to support this growth.
Economic benefits generated during construction and 20 years of operations from the Trans Mountain Expansion Project include:
- $46.7 billion in provincial/federal taxes including $5.7 billion to B.C.
- $23 billion of GDP effects for B.C.
The Trans Mountain Project creates 189,000 person-years of work in B.C. through construction and 20 years of operations. Excluding construction, TMEP supports about 7,600 jobs per year. This includes jobs created when oil producers reinvest the additional oil revenue they earn as a result of access to world markets. In the Lower Mainland, job creation includes almost 1,100 full-time marine sector jobs as a result of the increase from one tanker call per week at Westridge Marine Terminal to one per day.
Local governments in B.C. along the Trans Mountain right-of-way will annually receive an additional $23.2 million in property tax payments. Those payments can support community services such as police and fire protection, recreation and infrastructure, and can also be used to reduce the size of property tax increases. Additional payments projected include:
- $6.22 million to Burnaby
- $1.304 million to Abbotsford
- $1.278 million to Kamloops
- $944,000 to Chilliwack
- $594,000 to Hope
- $513,000 to Clearwater
- $441,000 to Surrey
- $243,000 to Coquitlam
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District would receive an additional $7.484 million annually, followed by the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (up $1.858 million) and the Fraser Valley Regional District (up $1.273 million).
Trans Mountain proposed, in a December 2013 Application to the National Energy Board (NEB), to expand its existing pipeline system, increasing daily capacity from 300,000 barrels to 890,000 barrels.
Following a 29-month review, the NEB, on May 29, 2016, concluded that the TMEP is in the Canadian public interest and recommended that the Federal Governor in Council approve the expansion. The NEB attached 157 conditions which address issues such as public safety, economic benefits, local job creation, emergency preparedness and emergency response, Aboriginal interests, environmental protection and safety along both the pipeline right-of-way and the marine tanker transport route. The NEB’s review was rigourous, involving a record 404 intervenors and more than 1,200 commenters.
On November 29, 2016, the Government of Canada accepted the NEB recommendation, noting that Canada needed to expand the markets for its oil products and saying that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project “will make that possible.”
On January 11, 2017, the Province of British Columbia announced that the Project had received its environmental certificate from the BC’s Environmental Assessment Office subject to 37 Conditions. The Province stated that TMEP met its Requirements for British Columbia to Consider Support for Heavy Oil Pipelines, known as B.C.’s Five Conditions. The project has met the pertinent environmental and social requirements.
It is clearly an important component in the ongoing health and success of BC’s economy. We call upon the provincial government to recognize the due diligence conducted by the various regulatory and governmental bodies, and allow this project to move forward in a timely fashion.
The above statement was released above the name of Kamloops Chamber of Commerce vice president Joshua Knaak.