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Trans Mountain activity slowed by permits, Kinder Morgan Canada says

Last Updated Oct 18, 2017 at 6:40 pm EST

CALGARY – Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. (TSX:KML) said Wednesday that it’s already facing potentially months of delay on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project because of the timing of permits and regulatory approvals.

“If you just took the delays experienced to date, and just flowed that through the schedule, we believe that results in a nine-month delay,” said CEO Steve Kean during a conference call following the company’s third-quarter earnings release.

He said, however, that there are ways to reduce that delay and potentially claw back the project to the scheduled December 2019 in-service date.

“There’s work to be done on mitigation, there’s work to be done on permitting, and there’s work to be done with our contractors,” he said.

Kean said that because of the delays, about $340 million of project spending scheduled for 2017 had already been pushed back.

The project has already received hundreds of permits from British Columbia, but will require well over a thousand from the province, said president Ian Anderson during the call.

Permits have continued to come in after the B.C. NDP were sworn into power in the province, he said. The new provincial government has vowed to use whatever legal means necessary to stop the $7.4-billion pipeline project.

“The bureaucracies and statutory authorities have continued to do their work. We don’t yet see any evidence of political interference,” said Anderson.

Many in B.C. oppose the project and Kinder Morgan Canada is facing intense scrutiny, including chastisement last month for installing fish-spawning deterrents without proper approvals in place.

The company applied for an exemption to allow it to place more deterrents, saying not getting them in place could delay the project by up to a year. It then withdrew the application after finding fish had already started spawning in the areas.

The project also faces opposition from several First Nations, municipalities and environmental groups. They made arguments against the project in the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver as part of a lawsuit for which hearings wrapped up last week.

Company officials declined to speculate on the potential outcome of the various legal challenges to the project, but Kean said he was encouraged to see the B.C. NDP government defend the Indigenous consultation work conducted by the previous government.

For its third quarter, Kinder Morgan Canada had net income of $42.4 million for the three months ending Sept. 30, up from $20.3 million in the same quarter last year.