Business leaders welcome pipeline approval but fear it may not be completed

Trans Mountain Pipeline

Business leaders say they are pleased with news that Ottawa has re-approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion but will hold off on popping champagne corks until construction begins on new pipe from Edmonton to the West Coast.

Jack Mintz, tax policy and economics expert at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, says the approval of a project that will add about 600,000 barrels per day of potential oil export capacity is a rare bit of good news for the sector.

But he cautions that legal challenges could still cause delays and the extra capacity won't be enough to allow the industry to grow, nor will it necessarily create more interest from financial markets in Western Canadian oil and gas investments.

Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, one of the leaders of the Iron Coalition hoping to bid for an equity stake in the pipeline, says he's pleased that the federal government intends to consult with Indigenous groups on selling all or part of the pipeline company to them.

Chris Bloomer, CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, urges the government to move forward with construction "immediately'' to alleviate as soon as possible the industry's market access issues blamed for discounts on Canadian oil.

In a statement, oilsands producer Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. also calls for construction halted last summer after a court decision to be restarted as soon as possible.