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Pipeline expansion work suspended

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TORONTO—Kinder Morgan said yesterday it is suspending all non-essential activities and related spending on its controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project that nearly would triple the flow of oil from Canada's oilsands to the Pacific Coast.

The company said its decision is based on the B.C. government's opposition to the project, which also has been the focus of sustained protests at Kinder Morgan's marine terminal in Burnaby.

Kinder Morgan said it will consult with “various stakeholders” to try to reach an agreement by May 31 that might allow the project to proceed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted the project should be completed despite the angry protests and the B.C. government's continued battle against it in the courts.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by the Canadian division of Texas-based Kinder Morgan dramatically would increase the number of oil tankers travelling the shared waters between Canada and Washington state.

Trudeau approved the project in late 2016, saying it was in Canada's best interest.

“We have determined that in the current environment, we will not put KML shareholders at risk on the remaining project spend,” Steve Kean, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

“A company cannot resolve differences between governments,” it added.

“While we have succeeded in all legal challenges to date, a company cannot litigate its way to an in-service pipeline amidst jurisdictional differences between governments.”

Kean said the uncertainty around the company's ability to finish the project “leads us to the conclusion that we should protect the value that KML has, rather than risking billions of dollars on an outcome that is outside of our control.”

The project has drawn legal challenges and opposition from environmental groups and Native American tribes, as well as from municipalities such as Vancouver and Burnaby.

It's also sparked a dispute between the provinces of Alberta, which has the world's third-largest oil reserves, and B.C. About 200 people have been arrested near Kinder Morgan's marine terminal in Burnaby during recent protests.

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