Canada is said to have started marketing Trans Mountain pipeline sale

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.					Canadian Press Patrick Doyle

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Canadian Press Patrick Doyle

But opposition in British Columbia threaten to further delay the project, which was approved by the federal government in 2016.

For its part, the Trudeau government greenlighted Trans Mountain in November 2016 and has long insisted the project is in the national interest because Canada loses $15 billion every year as a result of now limited access to export markets outside the U.S.

The federal move is welcome to get the stalled project going, said Tim McMillan, CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, adding he also is pleased that Ottawa has committed to put the project back in private hands "where it belongs". "We don't want to find ourselves in this situation again".

Kinder Morgan had issued a May 31 ultimatum for clarification on the status of the project, which is now mired in legal challenges raised by B.C. Premier John Horgan and also facing Lower Mainland opposition with protests in Burnaby and Vancouver.

Instead, an energy company which has followed the rules in good faith, spent almost a billion dollars in development and undergone exhaustive vetting to win regulatory approval has been impeded at every turn by opponents, including the government of British Columbia and the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver with what amount to nuisance court actions, given how Kinder Morgan has so far won 16 of these legal challenges in a row.

Kinder Morgan Canada now has an average rating of "Hold" and a consensus target price of C$18.25.

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Kinder Morgan Canada estimates the pipeline deal is worth about $12 per restricted voting share, after capital gains tax - about three-quarters of its total share price. It will also own a terminal in Vancouver and the Cochin Pipeline system which transports light condensate from the United States to Fort Saskatchewan, just northeast of Edmonton.

"We think that we paid a fair price for the assets, there was due diligence done on the project and the conclusion was that it's commercially viable - we believe the private sector will come to the same conclusion", Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in an interview Thursday. It didn't specify how it would spend the proceeds of the sale but did say it plans to continue to invest in Canada. "The first priority is to get construction rolling and that will happen very soon", he said. "It kind of appeared that Kinder Morgan might not have thought this was such a good deal for a variety of reasons and those same concerns that Kinder Morgan had have not gone away", Stetski said.

In a research note, Desjardins Capital Markets analysts questioned whether construction of the controversial pipeline would proceed any smoother under government ownership.

The poll shows that 49% of British Columbians say they're "less likely" to vote for the federal Liberals in the next election.

Given the amount of money involved, Stetski said there were a number of other spending priorities the federal government should be focused on.

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