Edmonton

Ottawa still searching for Trans Mountain buyer, says new natural resources minister

Ottawa's ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline will be short lived, vows newly-appointed Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

'We are not in this for the long haul. Our goal is to remove the political uncertainty'

Edmonton MP Amarjeet Sohi was appointed Natural Resources Minister on Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Ottawa's ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline will be short lived, vows newly-appointed Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

"We are not in this for the long haul," Sohi said. "Our goal is to remove the political uncertainty, get this project underway and once that political uncertainty is dealt with, we will explore options of transferring these assets back to the private sector."

The Trudeau government continues to look for a buyer to take on the pipeline after committing in May to buy the project, which is facing staunch opposition in B.C.

"Those discussions will happen but they will happen in private, in a confidential atmosphere and setting because we cannot negotiate those kind of commercial deals in the public."

Those discussions will happen but they will happen in private- Amarjeet Sohi

The federal government committed in May to buying the project after Kinder Morgan issued an ultimatum and a drop dead date.

According to Kinder Morgan the deal will close late this year or early in 2019, but the federal government has said it expects to complete the deal in August.

Sohi declined to comment on the final purchase price.

"Our focus is to make sure that we get Trans Mountain expansion pipeline built," said Sohi, an Edmonton MP and former infrastructure minister.

"Those numbers will be disclosed once those negotiations are concluded," he said. "What I can tell you is, our government investing directly in our economy is nothing new." 

Sohi reiterated a promise that the pipeline expansion will be built on schedule.

Canada is too reliant on U.S. markets to sell its oil and the coastal pipeline expansion is key to diversifying markets, Sohi said.

"The $15 billion we lose every year because we only have only one customer and we have to sell our oil at a discounted price is unacceptable to our government," he said.

"We will make sure the Trans Mountain gets built so we can expand our markets."

Sohi was sworn into his new role Wednesday, leaving some pundits wondering if he will be able to find his bearings in  the portfolio before the election is called next year.

He said his roots in Alberta have made him well acquainted with the politics of oil and gas, but he will be working for the benefit of all Canadians.

"I have a very good staff," he said. "I am familiar with the different components of this portfolio."

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