New pipelines are the answer to oil price problems: Natural Resources minister

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi says he shares Albertan’s “frustration” at billions of dollars being lost to the Canadian economy due to oil price discounts linked to export pipeline capacity constraints.

But he says Ottawa is focused on finding long-term solutions by getting approval for new export pipelines such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project it bought in August and by pursuing Bill C-69 to reform the National Energy Board.

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Following a speech at an Energy Council of Canada forum in downtown Calgary, Sohi told reporters the key to building pipelines is building trust in regulatory processes and engaging affected parties early on so that approvals aren’t overturned, as was the case with Trans Mountain.

The judge that overturned that project’s NEB approval cited a lack of meaningful consultations with Indigenous people and failure to consider marine environmental impacts.

An NEB reconsideration of the identified issues is expected to conclude by February but Sohi said he won’t put a deadline on new Indigenous consultations now underway.

Asked about an Alberta request in October for the federal government to support crude-by-rail shipments, Sohi said the Alberta request is being examined by his department but he hasn’t actually seen it.

“My administration has been engaging with the province of Alberta, their officials and the officials from other provinces to explore options, options that can work, options that are practical to implement and options that will actually give us the ability to transport Alberta resources in a way that needs to be done,” he said.

“Those are short-term solutions but the long-term solution is making sure pipeline capacity is expanded.”

Asked then what options are being considered, he said: “I don’t know what those options are. Officials are engaging with the provincial officials.”

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