Danielle Smith: B.C. is one step away from economic catastrophe

The refinery in Burnaby, B.C. Global News

B.C. is in a precarious position when it comes to their fuel supply. The shocking thing is they don’t seem to know it.

I normally have Dan McTeague from Gas Buddy on so I can complain about gas prices and vent about how we are being hosed by U.S. refineries. So I was feeling a little bit of righteous glee when I heard him talk about the recent spike in gas prices in Vancouver. Ha! Take that you hypocritical environmentalists!

But as we spoke my glee turned to alarm. Cavalierly, I have been advocating that we turn off the existing Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline to show British Columbians how much they rely on fossil fuels from Alberta.

After talking with McTeague, I’m now rethinking that because the consequences for B.C. residents would be catastrophic.

LISTEN: Dan McTeague from Gas Buddy explains the situation in British Columbia

The Burnaby Refinery is currently closed for planned maintenance and it may be down for as long as two more months. Shocker number one is that no one seemed to plan for this so-called planned maintenance.

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He said they did not build up a storage reserve to see them through the shutdown, so that’s one reason prices have spiked.

The second shocker that McTeague warned of is supply problems in two of the four refineries in Washington state. McTeague said Vancouver gets most of its aviation fuel from the United States but it also fills a significant need for diesel and gas by bringing it in by barge into Vancouver. So with the refinery down, he said they are seeing more tanker traffic from the United States into their harbor. You heard that right.

Ironically, one way Vancouver could reduce this tanker traffic is by receiving more fuel through the Trans Mountain pipeline. The pipeline was built in the 1950s in a novel way: not only can it transport diluted bitumen, it can transport refined product such as diesel and gasoline too.

The reason it can’t be called upon to assist in filling the gap with the Burnaby refinery being down is that it is already at capacity.

McTeague said British Columbians probably don’t even realize that the Trans Mountain expansion would provide ongoing security of supply and reduce the premium they have to pay at the pump.

So, Vancouverites are paying $1.47 per litre – or more – for the foreseeable future until the Burnaby Refinery is up and running, and supply volumes are restored in the refineries in Washington state. What if something happens to the third pillar of supply?

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What if Trans Mountain had to be shut down for some reason?

LISTEN: Gary G. Mar shares his perspective on the B.C. wine boycott

The first effect would be a massive price spike. The second effect would be shortages. The third would be a ripple effect through the entire province that would impact every aspect of industry and every aspect of life.

British Columbians are angry we don’t want to buy their wine until our trade dispute with their government is over. British Columbians should really be furious that their political leaders are playing a game with their economic well-being and bringing them to the brink of disaster.

B.C. politicians and anti-pipeline advocates are living in a fantasyland pretending they don’t need Alberta oil when they clearly do. Someone should tell them to cut the crap and let Kinder Morgan get on with building this project.

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Danielle Smith can be reached at

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