Canada’s federal government has announced it will buy the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Houston-based energy infrastructure firm Kinder Morgan for $3.4bn.
Energy advocates hope the move will help break a logjam in progress of the project, which has been stymied by authorities in British Columbia.
The pipeline is intended to bring oil from Alberta’s prolific oil sands to a terminal at Burnaby in southern British Columbia with a view to shipping exports to Asian markets.
Without the pipeline to reach Pacific seaports, supporters say, Canada will be too dependent on the US as a customer, meaning producers are not maximizing their potential income.
Polling indicates that a majority of Canadians, and even a majority of BC residents, want the pipeline.
But environmentalists and conservationists have concerns about the effects of both the pipeline’s construction and, more significantly, how it will greatly increase oil tanker traffic around the Salish Sea and the Puget Sound.
They say it raises the risk of environmentally catastrophic oil spills in the waters of southwest Canada and the northwest US.