* Surprise Liberal win in B.C. may boost pipeline plans
* Political opposition had pledged to block new pipelines
* B.C. premier will support lines that meet conditions
By Scott Haggett
CALGARY, Alberta, May 15 The surprise
re-election of the ruling Liberal party in the Canadian province
of British Columbia might give a boost to energy industry plans
to build oil pipelines to Canada's Pacific coast, lines the
Liberals' opponents had pledged to block.
Although polls had widely forecast a resounding victory for
the left-leading New Democratic Party after 12 years of Liberal
rule, voters returned the government of Premier Christy Clark to
power with a strengthened majority, although Clark lost her own
seat to an NDP challenger.
Clark promised to approve pipeline projects that met a list
of conditions, while the NDP, led by Adrian Dix, said it would
halt the lines.
The Liberal win might boost the odds that at least one of
two proposed pipelines that would carry oil from Alberta's oil
sands to the Pacific coast will proceed, despite public
"The clear opposition to the pipelines that Adrian Dix and
the NDP put forward has now lost," said Kathryn Harrison, a
political science professor at the University of British
"Clark has her conditions, so she is not automatically
saying yes. But she has definitely left the door open and I
think after the election outcome, the door is probably a little
Canadian oil producers are seeking new Asian markets for
rising production from Alberta's tar sands. They hope to boost
prices depressed by tight pipeline capacity and new domestic
supplies in the United States, which currently receives almost
all of Canada's exports.
The two oil pipelines have become contentious in B.C.,
particularly for environmentalists and aboriginal groups
concerned that oil spills would mar the province's pristine
landscapes and sully its coast.
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP is in the early
stages of a plan to expand its 290,000 barrel per day Trans
Mountain pipeline to carry nearly 900,000 bpd of oil sands crude
from Edmonton, Alberta, to Vancouver.
Enbridge Inc's C$6 billion ($5.9 billion) Northern
Gateway pipeline would take crude from Edmonton to Kitimat, on
British Columbia's northern coast. It is awaiting a regulatory
decision on whether the pipeline can proceed.
Although many in British Columbia are leery of the oil
pipelines, other energy projects have received wide support. A
host of new liquefied natural-gas plants are planned for the
province's northern coast to take gas from the province's
massive shale fields to Asian customers.
The Clark government has endorsed LNG development for its
potential to boost government revenues, replace coal-fired power
in Asia and provide employment in the province's north.
"The overall LNG export-supportive message from the Liberal
party remains in place," Anthony Yuen, an analyst with Citi
Research, wrote in a note to clients. "British Columbia is
strongly supportive of gas exports because the province can
receive the entire economic benefit, as many gas fields are
located inside the province, and gas is perceived to be cleaner
While Northern Gateway faces united opposition from
aboriginal groups along the pipeline's route, Enbridge said on
Wednesday it expects to work with Clark's government to ensure
the province backs the project.
"Our strategy is to continue to work with the government and
help them to understand the project and what it is we are
committing to and to work with the government so we can
understand what their concerns are," said Janet Holder,
executive vice-president of Western Access at Enbridge.
Trans Mountain could not be immediately reached for comment.
Clark laid out five conditions last year that must be met
before the province will support construction of an oil
pipeline. Those include a bigger slice of tax revenue than
British Columbia currently receives, federal regulatory
approval, top-notch spill prevention and clean up systems, and
aboriginal consultations and benefits.
While her request for additional revenues from other
governments has been contentious, Clark said on Wednesday she
expects all her conditions to be met.
"There are five conditions, they are not going to change,"
she told reporters. "Any expansion of heavy oil will have to
meet those five conditions. I am hopeful other governments will
decide they want to engage on this."