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Noise makes Trans Mountain pipeline bid unlikely: Pembina CEO

Strategy is to get Western Canada's hydrocarbons to the highest price markets but he wants to avoid exposure in news articles.

August 21, 2019   by Dan Healing

CALGARY — The CEO of Pembina Pipeline Corp. says the Trans Mountain pipeline system would fit neatly into his company’s business model but he wouldn’t want the “noise” associated with its controversial expansion project.

On a conference call to discuss his company’s agreement announced Wednesday to purchase Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd., Mick Dilger was non-committal when asked if Pembina would consider buying the pipeline which Kinder Morgan sold to the federal government last year.

“If you think about our 10-year plan and our strategy of getting Western Canada’s hydrocarbons to the highest price markets on the globe, TMX would clearly fit into that mandate, but we cannot take on the noise with something like that,” he said, adding he wants his company to avoid being mentioned in news articles.

“Could we successfully own and operate that asset? I can say we’re uniquely qualified to do that, but we’ve got a lot of other things that are going our way and we don’t want to subject our entire organization and reputation to all the noise that that entails. But strategically, for sure, it’s in scope.”

Kinder Morgan Canada was created in mid-2017 to raise money to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion but it sold both the existing and proposed lines to the federal government for $4.5 billion last summer.

It announced in May it had decided to remain a stand-alone public company after a strategic review of options that could have included the sale of part or all of the corporation.

Separately, Trans Mountain announced Wednesday that construction would restart on the expansion project within a month after it received the required permits. Ottawa has indicated it will sell the pipeline back to private owners after it has “de-risked” the expansion.

Pembina’s deal to buy Kinder Morgan Canada _ including its ownership of the Canadian portion of the Cochin pipeline – is an all-shares deal valued at $2.3 billion including the assumption of preferred shares and outstanding net debt.

In addition, it said it would pay roughly $2.05 billion in cash to purchase the U.S. side of the Cochin pipeline from Kinder Morgan, Inc., which owns 70% of Kinder Morgan Canada.

The Cochin pipeline runs 2,900 kilometres between Fort Saskatchewan, northeast of Edmonton, and Chicago and has a design capacity of up to 110,000 barrels per day.

It imports into Canada a prized light petroleum called condensate which is used to dilute oilsands bitumen to allow it to flow in a pipeline.

The deal also includes an Edmonton storage and terminal business and Vancouver Wharves, a bulk storage and export-import business.

“We believe KML’s assets will be a great fit with Pembina’s business and this transaction is highly beneficial to KML’s shareholders,” said Steve Kean, CEO of both Kinder Morgan Canada and its US-based parent, in a news release.

“This transaction gives KML’s public shareholders the opportunity to participate in a larger and growing platform of North American midstream energy assets.”

The Cochin pipeline is one of two cross-border condensate import pipelines and it both complements Pembina’s existing condensate infrastructure in Western Canada and further extends the company’s reach into the US, Dilger said on the call.

The pipeline was once used to send propane from Canada into the US, he pointed out, adding Pembina will have the option to reverse the line to export crude oil if demand for condensate ebbs.

It is offering 0.3068 of a Pembina share per Kinder Morgan Canada share and class B unit, thus delivering a 38% premium, the companies said. Kinder Morgan Canada shares were up by about 34 per cent at $14.74 in afternoon trading.

 


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