Kinder Morgan has filed a last minute objection to the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel’s preliminary conditions for the Enbridge project.
One of the objections from Kinder Morgan is the provision in the JRP’s proposed Gateway conditions for “purpose built tugs” to escort tankers (a measure that Enbridge has proposed for the Gateway project). Another provision Kinder Morgan objects to is “secondary containment facilities at marine terminals” likely to become an issue if the Vancouver terminal is expanded by Kinder Morgan.
Overall, Kinder Morgan warns that if the JRP imposes some of the proposed conditions on the Northern Gateway, it could adversely affect future pipeline projects in British Columbia.
As well, Kinder Morgan, it appears, is already concerned that if the proposed oversight of Northern Gateway goes ahead, the Kinder Morgan plan to twin the pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver and expand terminal operations in Vancouver could face ongoing scrutiny and possible delays.
The Kinder Morgan document, from the company’s Calgary lawyer, Shawn Denstedt, of Osler, Hoskins and Harcourt, filed May 31, appeared among all the final arguments filed on Friday by intervenors and governments to the Joint Review Panel on Northern Gateway.
Kinder Morgan’s letter to the JRP comes long after the final deadline for such comments.
Kinder Morgan is a registered intervenor in the Northern Gateway hearings, but has only filed four previous documents during the entire multi-year process. The company does not appear on the list of intervenors scheduled to appear for oral final arguments in Terrace beginning on June 17.
On April 12, 2013, the JRP issued a preliminary list of 199 conditions for the planning, construction and operation of the Northern Gateway project.
Now Kinder Morgan is worried. Denstedt’s letter notes:
we believe a number of the proposed conditions may have a material impact on pipeline and infrastructure development in Canada and consideration should be given to the conditions from this perspective.
Diplomatically, Denstedt goes on to tell the panel:
Our comments are intended to assist the JRP in understanding the potential outcomes of the proposed conditions if they become generally applicable to industry.
Under what Detstadt calls “Commercial considerations”, Kinder Morgan says “we observe that several of the proposed conditions are likely to affect the manner and risks involved in procuring pipeline facilities and services.
The list points to
Three layer composite coating or high performance composite coating is required for the entire pipeline although other pipeline coatings are commonly used in the pipeline industry depending upon ground conditions encountered
Complementary leak detection systems must be identified that can be practically deployed over extended distances of pipeline.
The construction of purpose-built tugs involves significant cost and lead time
A volume is prescribed for the secondary containment facilities at the marine terminal without reference to existing codes.
The letter goes on to say that if the conditions proposed by the JRP for the Northern Gateway come into effect, in Kinder Morgan’s opinion, it could adversely affect other pipeline projects in the future.
If broadly applied to industry, such conditions may limit the ability of pipeline companies to obtain competitive quotes because there are few sources of the required materials or services. The effect of conditions that require the use of a particular material or service may be to grant commercial benefits to certain suppliers through the regulatory process beyond the requirements of existing codes. Since several export pipelines are currently proposed, there will be a heightened demand for labour and materials in the coming years. The commercial effect of conditions that may exacerbate shortages of labour and materials should be a relevant consideration for the JRP.
One of Kinder Morgan’s objections is to the timing the JRP proposes for the Northern Gateway project if it applies to other pipelines.
Several of the proposed conditions contain NEB approval requirements and filings deadlines several years prior to operations. For example, plans related to the marine terminal and research programs must be filed for NEB approval three years prior to operations.
We are concerned that requiring reports to be filed for approval several years before operations can create significant schedule risks for infrastructure development projects. For example, a project with a two year construction schedule could take three years to complete with such conditions. Any changes to the construction schedule and anticipated date of operations would affect the filing deadline. Project proponents need sufficient schedule certainty in order to plan major expenditures on labour and materials.
To mitigate such risks, it is relevant for regulators to consider whether the filing deadlines and approval requirements prescribed in conditions could materially alter a project’s schedule. Filing deadlines should be set at a reasonable time before operations in order to minimize the risk that such deadlines materially affect the critical path for a project.
Many of the conditions require NEB approval, and in some cases the participation of other parties in the approval process, in order to be satisfied. Fulfillment of those conditions will require additional time, a Board process and potentially litigation. For example, certain reports must be filed with the NEB for approval prior to commencing construction activities. Other conditions require reports to be filed for approval by the NEB prior to construction with a summary of how concerns from other government agencies and Aboriginal groups were addressed.
So Kinder Morgan says:
In our view, conditions that require subsequent board approvals and that attract the potential for additional regulatory processes should be the exception and not a new standard or norm. There must be clear, well understood rationales given as to why additional approvals are in the public interest.
And so Kinder Morgan asks:
As an alternative, the NEB may utilize its existing powers and processes to ensure that when filings are made to satisfy imposed conditions an additional approval process is not required.
Overall the company sees the rules for Northern Gateway as a step back to the days before deregulation.
A number of the conditions may be interpreted as reflecting a return to a prescriptive approach to regulation. These conditions prescribe detailed audit requirements instead of setting a goal oriented approach to allow the proponent flexibility in mitigating any adverse effects. Such conditions tend to focus on operational aspects that are covered by existing codes and regulations rather than setting goals for the proponent to mitigate any significant adverse effects.
Denstedt, again diplomatically, concludes by saying:
Kinder Morgan wishes to thank the JRP for the opportunity to present these high level perspectives regarding its proposed conditions. Our comments are intended to ensure that the wider implications of the proposed conditions on the pipeline industry and infrastructure development are given appropriate consideration in the deliberations and final recommendations of the JRP.