VANCOUVER — As yet another proposal emerges to carry ever-greater volumes of Alberta oil to the West Coast, British Columbians have every good reason to ask: What’s in it for us?
Word surfaced last week that Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, a Houston-based pipeline company, hopes to nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline, moving oilsands crude through B.C. to its Burnaby terminal on Burrard Inlet.
The project would see daily tanker export of oilsands product out of an area globally renowned for its natural beauty and lofty green aspirations.
Of course, environmentalists and aboriginal groups have long opposed Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, a separate plan envisioning a twinned pipeline that would snake from Edmonton to the northern B.C. port of Kitimat. Tankers then would move through narrow channels adjacent to the Great Bear Rainforest to reach open sea, and markets in Asia.
Gateway is in the process of going through federal regulatory review, with recommendations due in 2013.
The fact is, Alberta badly needs B.C. to be its new best friend because oil shipped to Asian markets would fetch a world price — higher than the North American price that companies in landlocked Alberta now fetch for the resource.