OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is still talking to Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd about financial aid for a pipeline, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said on Thursday, a day after the company said such help might not be enough.
The chairman of parent company Kinder Morgan Inc said the offer would not help resolve resistance in the Pacific province of British Columbia, where the government opposes plans to almost triple the capacity of an oil pipeline from Alberta to the west coast.
Asked for his reaction to the comments, Carr told reporters that Ottawa was talking to the company.
“So really nothing has changed ... They are still interested in having conversations with the government,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, citing the need to assuage investors worried about putting money into the energy sector, said last Sunday he had asked his finance minister to open talks with Kinder Morgan Canada about possible aid for the C$7.4 billion ($5.8 billion) project.
Trudeau, in London for an official visit, told reporters on Thursday that “we will ensure that this pipeline gets built.”
Trudeau insists his Liberal government has jurisdiction over the pipeline but British Columbia - concerned about the risks of a spill - is seeking to delay and possibly kill the project by going to court.
Kinder Morgan Canada says it will walk away from the project on May 31 unless Ottawa acts to end the uncertainty over the project, which is also opposed by environmentalists and aboriginal activists.
“We know that the May 31 deadline is real ... They are feeling the pressure from their investors because of uncertainty,” said Carr.
Asked whether he was concerned that the federal government’s efforts to keep the project alive would fail, he replied: “It’s hard to predict the future in pipeline politics.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said late on Wednesday that “the message we’re getting back (from the company) is that they are pleased with the high level of engagement that is happening between both us and the federal government.”
Notley strongly backs the pipeline and has threatened to cut off oil supplies to British Columbia.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; With additional reporting by William James in London, Julie Gordon in Vancouver and Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker