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Canada mulls ban on crude tankers off Northern British Columbia

Canada mulls ban on crude tankers off Northern British Columbia
The government of Canada is mulling a ban on crude oil tankers off Northern British Columbia for environmental reasons, cutting off a lucrative export market for the country.

Having promised the ban before his election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Transportation Minister Marc Garneau to “formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s North Coast, working in collaboration with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to develop an approach” as a matter of priority, in a mandate letter on Friday.

The move puts the future of the country’s proposed $6.5bn, 1,177km oil pipeline between Alberta and an export terminal in the west coast province of British Columbia, which would allow Canada to export crude to refineries in countries other than the US, to which it is forced to sell at a steep discount.

Ivan Giesbrecht, spokesperson of Enbridge, the company which proposed the pipeline, said the company would add “any improvements deemed necessary” by Trudeau.

“Forcing Western Canada to sell its oil and gas at a lot less than the world price to the benefit of Americans really seems ridiculous and counter to our strategic interests, so how could we possibly justify blocking the trade routes that would fix that problem?” argued Michael Binnion, ceo of fellow Canadian energy firm Questerre Energy, in the Canadian National Post.

However, Vancouver energy lawyer with Watson Goepel LLP Warren Brazier told the Calgary Herald that the mandate letter is worded in such a way that exporting refined crude from the North Coast could still be possible.