Opinion | Don’t listen to the anti-oil and gas crowd, Trans Mountain isn’t a stranded asset

Recently, a Greenpeace Canada blog post about a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer on Trans Mountain’s financials quoted a hypothetical scenario to try and ‘prove’ the project will be unprofitable.


This narrative has been pushed time and time again by anti-oil and gas groups. They claim the project is a pipeline to nowhere, and after the purchase of the pipeline by the federal government in 2018 they say that it is a waste of taxpayer’s money.

This line of reasoning is a little bit hypocritical, considering these same groups want to see hundreds of billions spent on wind and solar subsidies that do not have adequate backup capacity or storage at this point in time.

Even though many anti-oil and gas groups used a hypothetical scenario in the PBO report to show the project as unprofitable, the PBO report clearly states: “Trans Mountain continues to be a profitable undertaking under current climate policy framework”.

In the ‘scenario’ in question they reference, it says: “While this section calculates an NPV for this scenario, it is not intended to indicate that it is what PBO deems most likely. It is solely to address the scenario requested by some parliamentarians.” This is based on the unlikely scenario that TMX shuts down in 2049.

Greenpeace Canada also based its claims on another report published by the Canada Energy Regulator. They claim that the recent Canada’s Energy Future 2020 report shows that there is no need for pipelines with today’s climate policies due to capacity increases from pipelines that will be coming online. However, the CER report itself shows that production for that scenario reaches close to the capacity of TMX, Keystone XL, and Line 3. They also fail to grasp the concept that just because you have a lot of capacity, does not mean you need to use all of it.

Greenpeace Canada also leaves out that the Trans Mountain expansion will help increase access to more market space by shipping more oil to a western port. This will allow Canada to export oil to hubs other than refineries in the U.S. The expansion will also help accommodate growing demand in non-OECD countries. Refiners in India have already signed agreements to buy 2 million barrels per month, which will be supplied by TMX.

Trans Mountain does not have to be a choice between climate action and the economy. This study by Navius Research shows that the project can help lower global emissions by 1,600,000 tonnes and fight climate change instead of dramatically increasing them. Not to mention that the oil that will be produced with the highest standards in the world, in a country with the highest ESG rankings of the top 10 energy.

Global oil demand is expected to increase alongside a growing global population, which will primarily be in developing, non-OECD countries. To support this growth, these countries will need a lot of cheap, reliable energy. With Canada as the best in the world supplier of energy, we can help them increase their quality of life and boost their economies while supplying reliable energy with the lowest environmental impacts.

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