Alberta unveils bill that could wreak havoc on B.C. gas prices in trade war


Alberta’s minister of energy will have sweeping discretionary powers to limit exports of crude, natural gas and gasoline to B.C. under much-anticipated legislation introduced Monday.

Bill 12, titled Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, gives the Alberta government the ability to retaliate against the B.C. government for any delays to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, by driving up gas prices or slapping restrictions on shipments of other energy products.

“We are very committed to putting pressure on B.C. to come around and focus on what this pipeline actually means,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.

The majority of gasoline and aviation fuel used in B.C. is shipped from Alberta through the existing Trans Mountain pipeline.

Limiting exports could create shortages in B.C., forcing it to look elsewhere for gasoline. Alberta could also divert crude oil shipments to rail and truck, in order to free up pipeline space for bitumen.

All these measures could amount to driving up prices at the pump, which could create political problems for B.C. Premier John Horgan.

Notley said delays to the proposed pipeline project will cost Canada an estimated $40 million a day in lost revenue.

$10M daily fine

The bill will give Alberta’s Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd power to issue licences for the export of crude oil, natural gas and refined products like gasoline and aviation fuel.

The licences can set limits on where product goes and on how much can be exported over a defined period of time. The minister can determine how product is exported, through pipeline, rail or truck.

Corporations that violate terms of a licence face a fine of $10 million a day.

The government claims it has received a legal opinion indicating the legislation would not violate the Constitution, NAFTA or any internal trade agreements.

If passed, the bill would come into effect upon proclamation.

The bill was introduced one day after Notley and Horgan met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa to discuss the dispute between the two provinces over proceeding with the pipeline.

Alberta’s proposed law came up in the discussions, and according to Notley, her B.C. counterpart said he hoped that it would not go ahead.

The Alberta and federal governments are in talks with Kinder Morgan on ways to give the company financial assurances the Trans Mountain pipeline project will go ahead.

The Texas-based company cited resistance from the B.C. government when it announced recently it was halting all non-essential spending on the project.

It will decide by May 31 whether the project will go ahead.


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