If you think British Columbians have it bad at the pumps now, imagine if Alberta shuts off the oil tap.
The Alberta government announced on Thursday that it will put legislation in place to block the shipment of oil to B.C. if premier John Horgan’s government takes ‘extreme and illegal actions…to stop the pipeline.’ Alberta is concerned that any move to stop the federally approved Trans Mountain pipeline would cripple it’s economy.
“In the past, when workers in our energy industry were attacked and when the resources we own were threatened, Premier Peter Lougheed took bold actions,” read the Alberta Throne Speech. “Your government has been clear: Every option is on the table.”
The Alberta government blocked the shipment of B.C. wine into Alberta in February because of concerns the B.C. government was breaking provincial trade rules by looking at restricting the flow of bitumen through B.C. The Notley government has since lifted that ban.
Energy commentator and blogger Blair King has broken down what sort of impact a restriction on Alberta oil would have on British Columbia. In a recent post, King uses Natural Resources Canada numbers that show Edmonton refineries provides 50 to 60 per cent of the petroleum products needed in the Vancouver market.
“If a minor cut from the producer that supplies 20 per cent to 25 per cent of B.C.’s gasoline and diesel results in gasoline priced at $1.60/L imagine what shutting down 60 per cent of our supply for a week or two would do,” said King in his post. “We would be looking at gas in the $2/L – $3/L zone.”
“Ultimately the challenge faced by British Columbia is that our geography conspires against us in the transportation of fossil fuels. With mountains and water bodies in the way, getting fossil fuels to market is particularly challenging.”
Alberta UCP leader Jason Kenney has also announced if he is elected premier next year, he would restrict the flow of oil to B.C. if the Trans Mountain pipeline is blocked.
On Tuesday, gas in Metro Vancouver hit $1.50, making it the most expensive in North America. B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman said he doesn’t believe that Alberta actually would take the action of shutting down the flow of oil.
“I see no reason for the government of Alberta to take any action when all B.C. has been doing is standing up to our interests in proposing some regulations that are well in our jurisdiction,” said Heyman. “We are determined to defend our environment, our economy and our coastline. We have tried to be the adults in the room here.”
The B.C. government is still working with a legal team to determine a reference question for the courts around the discussion of restricting the flow of bitumen by rail or pipeline through the province. Heyman is adamant that the courts should settle this case, and not a neighbouring provincial government by restricting the export of a natural resource.
“I see no reason that Alberta will take an unlawful action against the province,” said Heyman. “We have refer an issue of contention to the courts, we believe that is where legal issues should be determined.”