Trans Mountain pipeline builder says approval could create target for attackers

Ian Anderson, CEO of Kinder Morgan speaks during an interview at the company's offices in Calgary, Thursday, May 26, 2016. Kinder Morgan Canada is anticipating more attacks by activists if its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Edmonton to the West Coast is approved, Anderson says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY - Kinder Morgan Canada is anticipating more attacks by activists if its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Edmonton to the West Coast is approved, president Ian Anderson says.

Approval could paint a target on the project, resulting in more incidents like attempts Tuesday by protesters to shut down pipelines in four U.S. states, Anderson told reporters after speaking at an energy conference.

"(There) will be localized impacts, there will be regionalized impacts and there will be national and international focuses," he said when asked about the attention that approval might bring.

"So we're preparing for all of those both from a security and a safety standpoint. Our contracts with our lead contractors and construction companies in the field will be very well defined in terms of what we do in the face of any activity or protest."

"We're preparing for all types and sorts of opposition."

He confirmed that one of his company's feeder pipelines in Washington state was targeted Tuesday, but said there was no damage and deliveries were not affected.

He said activists didn't succeed in shutting off the valve they targeted and they were all arrested for trespassing.

Earlier at the same conference, Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd condemned the pipeline attacks as well beyond the definition of civil disobedience.

"That was a very dangerous move yesterday (Tuesday) and, thankfully, the companies had good protocols to stop that," she said.

"There are extremes on both sides that are never going to change their minds and we're working with the middle groups that are rational thinkers."

Pipeline safety expert Rick Kuprewicz of Redmond, Wash.-based Accufacts Inc. agreed that activists may be drawn to the Trans Mountain project if it is approved and begins construction.

He said those who try to close valves risk causing serious or deadly incidents which won't help them win over people to their cause and could result in prison.

"This is a dumb stunt. It can be very dangerous," he said.

"This is moving liquid that is identified as hazardous liquid and it's identified that way for a reason. You keep it in the pipe."

The Canadian government is expected to rule on the $6.8-billion Trans Mountain expansion project in December, leaving an environmental permit from British Columbia as the final regulatory hurdle.

Anderson said construction could be interrupted by blockades.

"I'd be naive if I didn't expect that," he said.

"It's hopefully peaceful ... it's when it goes beyond that that we'll have to be prepared."

He said the company is monitoring and hopes to learn from protests in North Dakota against the four-state Dakota Access pipeline. The attempted oil pipeline shutdowns Tuesday were planned to support those protesters.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is trying to wrap up construction on the US$3.8-billion pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois.

Opponents of the pipeline worry about drinking water on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and further downstream, as well as destruction of cultural artifacts.

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