Canada has agreed to halt its $8 billion $6.4 billion pipeline that would carry Alberta oil to refineries in the U.S. and Europe, in a step the Canadian government said would allow it to refocus on the project’s “full environmental assessment.”
The announcement by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli follows an online petition that calls on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cancel the project and withdraw from the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would bring Alberta crude to the Pacific Coast.
The pipeline would run under the U, S. and Canadian coasts and would carry oil from the B.C. oil sands to refiners along the U and S. coasts.
Trudeau, who has been criticized for failing to fully review the pipeline’s environmental impact, said in a statement Thursday that the government will begin to phase out its construction as it completes its full environmental assessment.
“Canada will not be building a pipeline through the Bering Sea,” Trudeau said in the statement.
“Instead, we will focus on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade deals.
The Trans-Mountain project is one of those, and it will be put on hold while the government and the industry work to make the most of the opportunities that exist now.”
Trudeau and U.s.
President Donald Trump met with oil companies on Wednesday in a meeting that focused on the Keystone XL pipeline, and Trudeau promised that he would not be pushing the U of A. to approve the pipeline in a separate meeting later Thursday.
Canada has already approved construction of the pipeline, but a major opposition party in the legislature has said it will oppose it in court.
Trudeau has said he will not pursue a pipeline with the United States, a stance that some observers say is aimed at gaining support for the pipeline as he tries to sell it to other countries.
Canada’s energy sector was already struggling under the oil price slump, which hit exports of natural gas to the United Kingdom and Europe in recent months.
In the U!s bid to build the TransMountain pipeline, Trudeau’s government has pledged to phase it out by 2030, and has pledged that its production will come from existing pipelines.
Trudeau is in Britain to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May, who he met in the run-up to Brexit in June.
He has also been a vocal critic of U.K. President Trump, whom he has called “unpatriotic.”
The U. S. will begin its own study of the Michels project this week, which is expected to last several months, Trudeau said.
Chiarell, who also chairs the committee that approved the pipeline project, told reporters on Thursday that it was important to get the project moving, adding that the decision to phase down production was not meant to be a quick one.
“We know we need to have this pipeline finished and ready for shipping by 2030,” Chiarella said.
“So that we can have a full environmental analysis done by the end of the year, and I think that that would give us a very good chance of making a decision that would help us in that.”
Chiarello said in his statement that he had been assured that a decision would be made by the government in a matter of weeks, and that Canada would move forward in the pipeline construction process.
“The decision to halt construction of this project will help us move forward on our commitment to build this project,” he said.