Morneau Wants Trans Mountain Pipeline Built Before He Sells It

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the government doesn’t want to be a long-term owner of the Trans Mountain pipeline, but it won’t “seriously consider” selling it before it’s built.

“We know that getting this pipeline done in the right way is what will advantage the sector and allow clean, Canadian oil and gas resources to create advantage around the world,” Morneau told Bloomberg Television after unveiling his fall economic statement in Ottawa Wednesday. “Only then will we really seriously consider selling it. We’re not going to sell it without resolving that political challenge. That’s the first order of business.”

Canada is re-doing consultation and environmental review on the pipeline in hopes of a “positive conclusion” on the expansion, he said. “If that moves forward the way that we hope it does, we’ll be in a position to assure the shippers who want to get it working that it’s operational -- and at that stage, the value will be there to consider the private market, capital markets and people who might be interested in buying it. I can’t give you an exact timeline, certainly it’s not government’s intent to own that asset for the long term.”

The government bought both the existing pipeline and its proposed expansion. The existing assets are generating a profit of C$200 million ($151 million) annually, according to the fiscal update.

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