Canadian oil pipeline Trans Mountain seeks to shield insurers from pressure

by Reuters
Wednesday, 24 February 2021 19:24 GMT

ARCHIVE PICTURE: The expansion of the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain oil pipeline advanced to a new construction stage, in Acheson, Alberta, Canada December 3, 2019. REUTERS/Candace Elliott

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If Trans Mountain's plan to keep its insurers' identities confidential is granted, activists' efforts to stop expansion of the pipeline would be undermined, a research says

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Trans Mountain Corp, a Canadian government corporation that operates an oil pipeline, has asked a regulator to keep the identities of its insurers private as environmental activists push them to drop coverage.

Activists have stepped up pressure on banks and insurers to drop financing and insurance for fossil fuel companies, leading to European companies like AXA and Zurich pulling back from underwriting coal and oil sands projects.

Trans Mountain is nearly tripling capacity of the pipeline to carry 890,000 barrels of crude and refined products per day from Edmonton, Alberta to the British Columbia coast. Much of the oil it transports comes from the province's oil sands - a particular focus of protests by due to their high carbon emissions.

The expansion has also raised fears about spills.

The pipeline's importance to Canada's oil industry increased after U.S. President Joe Biden revoked a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline last month.

Disclosing Trans Mountain's insurers publicly may result in pressure that shrinks its pool of potential insurers and raises premiums for the pipeline and its shippers, the corporation said in a submission on Monday to the Canada Energy Regulator (CER).

Trans Mountain said it incurred higher costs last year due to dwindling insurance options.

The firm, which must submit an updated plan on its financial resources to the CER by April 30, asked the regulator to keep its insurers' identities confidential.

"Trans Mountain has already observed increasing reluctance from insurance companies to offer insurance coverage for the pipeline and to do so at a reasonable price," it wrote.

Trans Mountain has the necessary insurance in place for its current operations and for construction of the expansion, it said in a statement to Reuters.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which represents some of Trans Mountain's shippers, said in a separate submission to the CER that it supports the pipeline's request.

Jamie Kalliongis, spokeswoman for The Sunrise Project, a research organization focused on the environment, said granting Trans Mountain's application would undermine activists' efforts to stop expansion of the pipeline.

Last week, Vancouver police arrested indigenous protesters who targeted Trans Mountain insurers, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said.

The CER said it was reviewing the request.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; additional reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet and Aurora Ellis)