Future Value of Trans Mountain Pipeline Rests on Liberals’ Climate Plans, PBO Says

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Construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline is seen underway in Kamloops, B.C., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A new report from the parliamentary budget officer says the federal government could end up losing money on the Trans Mountain pipeline if it further tightens its climate policy.

The federal government bought the pipeline, and the unfinished work to increase its capacity by twinning it, in August 2018 for $4.4 billion.

The Liberals haven’t been able to find a buyer for the pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast, and instead are paying for its expansion.

The budget officer says the pipeline remains profitable based on expected cash flows, estimating the government could make $600 million above its purchase price.

But Yves Giroux warns in his report today that everything could change based on circumstances both beyond and within the government’s control, including changes to climate policy that would reduce demand for the petroleum products the pipeline moves.

Giroux also provides a scenario for the Liberals’ promise to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, estimating doing could lead to a $1.5-billion loss on Trans Mountain.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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