The Kinder Morgan pipeline hearing could resume soon after being postponed August 21 due to conflict-of-interest concerns.
The National Energy Board (NEB) put the hearing on hold because Steven Kelly, the Conservative government’s latest appointment to the board, is an oil industry consultant who filed evidence in support of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The NEB is now striking that evidence, but Kinder Morgan will have a replacement plan by Friday, August 28, as requested by the NEB.
“We are confident we can meet requirements outlined by the NEB and that the regulatory process can proceed in a timely manner without material delay,” said Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson in a media release.
Kinder Morgan commissioned Kelly to provide an opinion on the supply and demand for oil in the future, and his evidence was filed in December 2013.
Marc Eliesen, a former deputy energy minister in Ontario and Manitoba, described Kelly’s work as the primary economic evidence in the pipeline case, and said other experts were basing their arguments on it.
Eliesen, an intervenor who withdrew from the hearing in protest, also raised concerns about Kelly’s evidence, stating he used a netbacks analysis based on one scenario: that oil would stay at roughly US$100 a barrel for the next couple of decades, something that’s already changed.
“In my professional judgement, Kelly’s evidence left a lot to be desired,” Eliesen told the Burnaby NOW. “It didn’t have the usual disclaimers.”
Eliesen said it also didn’t have a sensitivity analysis, which would have accounted for alternate scenarios, not just the $100-a-barrel projection.
No representatives of Kinder Morgan were available to comment further on what evidence the company was using to replace Kelly’s analysis.
Kelly’s NEB appointment takes effect October 13, and he will not be part of the three-person panel that makes a final recommendation on the pipeline proposal.
Kelly is listed as a vice-president of IHS, a Calgary-based consulting firm, and he’s held senior positions with Shell Canada.
According to Tara O’Donovan, a spokesperson for the NEB, the board’s chair Peter Watson was involved in the appointment process, but it’s the Governor in Council, advised by cabinet, that makes the final call on appointments.
When asked if Kelly would have any influence on the NEB’s decision on the Trans Mountain file, O’Donovan said the panel reviewing the pipeline expansion will make its decision independently of the rest of the board.
The NEB has a January 26, 2016 deadline for its final recommendation on the Trans Mountain expansion plan, but the federal cabinet has the last word on whether the pipeline goes ahead. O’Donovan said the NEB can ask for an extension if needed.