Joy and fury as Albertans react to federal government’s pipeline purchase

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Yikes. These are the same people who have just agreed to spend $4.5 billion to buy Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain project - the existing pipeline, the terminal assets, the current management team and workforce and the right to build an expansion that will triple daily capacity to 890,000 barrels.

"This is a great day for Canada, for our customers, for our employees", Kinder Morgan Canada CEO Steve Kean said on a morning conference call.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said purchasing the pipeline was the only way to ensure that a planned expansion could go ahead.

The report said a lack of investment in the energy sector is a contributing factor.

Calgary-based Kinder Morgan Canada, a unit of the Houston-based parent, was little changed at C$16.59 in Toronto trading Monday, for a market value of C$5.76 billion.

Discussing the plan on Tuesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the government acted to remove political uncertainty and ensure the project goes forward as the summer construction season nears.

The pipeline connects oil sands facilities near Edmonton, Alberta, to tanks in Burnaby, near Vancouver on Canada's west coast.

He said the failure of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast and Energy East pipeline project to the East Coast means Canada remains highly dependent on the US market for exports.

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"To investors considering Canada as a place to build big, important, transformative projects like the Trans Mountain expansion, we want you to know that you have a partner in Ottawa", Morneau said.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she sees no immediate need to turn off the oil taps to British Columbia now that the federal government is taking over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Morneau said there'd be no fiscal impact of the plan - suggesting he doesn't expect to make or lose money on the deal. "This project has more certainty than ever before".

If the government succeeds in getting the pipeline built, it plans to sell it back to the private sector.

"This is Ground Zero here, so obviously more volume means more production and more production means more jobs and more revenues for tax coffers municipally, provincially, federally", said Todd Banks, executive director of the Sherwood Park Chamber of Commerce.

"The majority of Canadians support this project". They have also asked the court to reopen its evidentiary record, more than six months after hearings concluded, to consider new evidence uncovered by a National Observer investigation that revealed public servants were instructed to find a way to approve the project before the government had concluded consultations with First Nations.

Canada loses $15 billion every year on the sale of oil because the US remains its only export customer, resulting in a lower price, Trudeau argues.

The purchase marks a stunning development for Trudeau's government - effectively nationalizing the country's highest-profile infrastructure project until an operator can be found. If Canada buys the pipeline, it will also acquire the personnel needed to continue with construction.

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