WOW. I NEVER thought I’d own piece of a pipeline. But now, like all Canadians, I may soon be part owner of the Canadian portion of the expanded Kinder Morgan pipeline. If Prime Minister’s Hail Mary pipeline saving move goes ahead that is.
But we shouldn’t get too used to being pipeline owners, since as well as buying the pipeline, Trudeau has promised to sell it again to some still unknown, eager buyer at who knows what cost.
Which makes one wonder who that company might be.
This isn’t Kinder Morgan’s first rodeo. They currently have 140,000 km of pipelines (including the 1150 km Trans Mountain pipeline system). They know pipelines, and they’ve decided to walk away from this expansion.
If American based Kinder Morgan doesn’t want to deal with the risks and uncertainty of environmental challenges, and First Nations rights and titles, I find it hard to believe any other American based company would either. Nor do I think any Canadian company would be up for the challenge.
If Kinder Morgan isn’t interested, then it’s doubtful other Americans and Canadians companies would be interested either.
But while Canadian and American companies might back away, my money’s on a Chinese company picking up the option of building and running the pipeline.
China is working around the globe to expand its presence.
Last July, China opened a naval base in Djibouti, a small country in the horn of Africa. It currently has plans for a naval port in Gwadar, Pakistan. China also has secured a port in Sri Lanka, and has strong relationships with Tanzania. It is steadily increasing its presence in Africa in everything from mining, to agriculture, to telecommunications. China-Africa trade is expected to be double that of US-Africa trade by 2020.
At the same time, China has built seven new military bases in the South China Sea, a region that is contested between China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China’s doing business to get the resources it wants, and building a military presence to defend its interests.
Chinese companies have been steadily investing in Canadian oil sands projects. Between 2002 and 2012, Chinese firms like PetroChina, CNOOC, and Sinopec have invested in Canada’s oil sands industry. Then, in 2012, the then Prime Minister Harper’s government put stricter limits on foreign investment in the oil industry. But in 2017, under Trudeau’s Liberals, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr signaled that Canada would again welcome investment in the oil sands from China.
Having oil sands production as well as a pipeline to put it in would give China control of the oil, and the ability to deliver it to the markets they want.
While we have been fighting with each other over whether the Kinder Morgan pipeline should be built, China has been building a world empire.
Many have been beating up on Kinder Morgan, as “That Texas Based Company” who is not working in Canada’s interest. Texas based or not, Canada has a long working relationship with American companies, and has been able to successfully enforce regulations and sovereignty with American companies. Canada lacks the history and strength of trade agreements with China that it has with the Americans.
With Kinder Morgan walking away from the pipeline expansion, and the federal Liberal government wanting to unload the pipeline as soon as they can, the door has been opened for a Chinese firm to acquire the pipeline and secure a supply of oil for China.
The shine is wearing off quickly on that piece of the pipeline I own. Better the devil you know, than the one you don’t. That’s what it’s looking like to me.
Nancy Bepple is a former city councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.