Pipeline companies review security after ‘reckless’ protest

Kinder Morgan Canada will review its security measures after a co-ordinated protest in the U.S. attempted to shut down several oil-export pipelines. And the company’s president says he expects further attacks if the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Edmonton to the West Coast is approved. Environmental activists in four U.S. states broke into remote pumping stations Tuesday and tried to disrupt the flow of oil from Alberta’s oilsands.

The protesters say they support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which opposes construction of a separate pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

‘It’s extremely dangerous and thank goodness no one got killed.’Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd

“There was a security breach, reckless access to our facilities. No damage was done, no harm was caused, no supply was interrupted,” said Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada. “Was there anything we could have done differently? I’m not aware at this point, but we’ll obviously take a look at that.”

Spectra, Enbridge and TransCanada were also impacted by the protesters. The companies warn sudden shutoffs can have unintended environmental consequences.

APTOPIX Oil Pipeline

Law enforcement officers, left, drag a person from a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, near the town of St. Anthony in rural Morton County, N.D. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune/Associated Press)

The U.S.-based group, Climate Direct Action, said it’s responsible for the protests. “For most of the day, all five tarsands lines coming into the United States were shut down and that, I think, is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Jay O’Hara, with Climate Direct Action. “It’s exemplary of the type of action we need to see coming from government leaders and business leaders to tackle the climate crisis.” They cut chains and tried to close the pipes, but Anderson said the valve connected to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline was not turned off and supply was not impacted.

“That’s very, very difficult to do manually, if not impossible, at the site location,” he said. “But had there been any tampering, we would have found out about it. We have cameras at many locations. I’m pretty satisfied that our intelligence and security would have maintained that site in a protected way.”

Jay O'Hara with Climate Direct Action

Jay O’Hara, with Climate Direct Action, called Tuesday’s demonstrations a ‘remarkable accomplishment.’ (CBC/Skype)

The Canadian pipeline industry has voiced its concern[1] about vandalism after several tampering incidents in Ontario over the last year. Oil companies work together on security measures, Anderson said. “We share trends that we’re seeing, we share social media intel that we may be picking up and [it] informs us quite well about what actions there may be,” he said.

The company is already planning security measures for its planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in the event it receives approval and the company can go ahead with the project in Alberta and B.C. Activists said they studied for months[2] on how to execute Tuesday’s shutdowns safely. Together, the lines affected can carry up to 2.8 million barrels of oil a day.

“It’s extremely dangerous and thank goodness no one got killed or hurt,” said Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd. “It sure sounds quite extreme.

It’s just plain dangerous.”


  1. ^ has voiced its concern (www.cbc.ca)
  2. ^ studied for months (www.cbc.ca)

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