Talk about Kinder Morgan, updated

If you want to know about Kinder Morgan’s methods of communication, read As Pipelines Expand, So Do Fears of Clearcuts, Spills, by Bryan Zandberg, The Tyee, November 2006:

When pipeline heavyweight Kinder Morgan began felling a thousand trees along its right-of-way on Burnaby Mountain last September, it touched off a protest it clearly didn’t see coming.

Early in the morning last Sept. 18, a handful of local residents, angry they hadn’t been told about the clearcut being made behind their homes, banded together and told the loggers and backhoes to stop cutting.

The work stopped, and the residents demanded a meeting with Kinder Morgan and called the media. CBC and CTV showed up and got some footage and sound bites, and then the matter seemed to quietly fall by the wayside.

Since then, the National Energy Board has approved the first phase of an expansion project that seems to guarantee clashes with North America’s largest petroleum transporters will become much more common in the future…

[Paul Blundin, a spokesman for the angry Burnaby homeowners, said] they were appalled at the mega-company’s poor attempt at consultation…

Blundin said Kinder Morgan sent out some vague e-mails — to the wrong people, he adds — warning that some “thinning” was to be done, but just days prior to the when the first trees hit the ground.

According to him, the public meeting with Kinder Morgan the protest had given rise to was in danger of being hijacked by the company’s PR machines.

“If you can imagine a gym set up with all these various booths, like a trade-show kind of concept,” recalled Blundin of the event. He criticized Kinder Morgan for trying to adopt a smug open-house approach rather than openly dealing with residents’ concerns. No chairs were set out, said Blundin, and Forest Grove Elementary gym, where the meeting was held, was booked reluctantly by company officials, and only after considerable pressure.

“What they wanted was [for] people to walk in and kind of mingle with the staff, be schmoozed, give them a cup of coffee and a cookie and then kind of wander out…”

Wall Street Worries About Kinder Morgan’s Safety Record, Sightline Daily:

Last week, a financial research firm, Hedgeye, released a scathing report on Kinder Morgan that supports many of Sightline’s conclusions. Aptly titled Is Kinder Morgan Maintaining its Stock Prices Instead of its Assets? (no longer available online), the report is mainly concerned with Kinder Morgan’s books, but it includes a few bombshells that should worry the public.

Consider just this sampling from the summary section:

We believe that Kinder Morgan’s high-level business strategy is to starve its pipelines and related infrastructure of routine maintenance spending in order to maximize Distributable Cash Flow…

In our view, Kinder Morgan cuts, defers, and eventually finances the [Limited Partnership’s] maintenance spending…


A broader, and more important concern is the reliability and safety of Kinder Morgan’s pipelines. In 2012, Kinder Morgan acquired El Paso, then the largest natural gas pipeline company in the US, in a +$30B deal; Kinder Morgan has already cut maintenance expenses by 70-99% and maintenance [capital expenditures] by ~60% on most of those assets. In our view, it is alarming that Kinder Morgan supporters believe that this is a sound business practice.

The report goes on to detail specific maintenance spending deferrals, and it enumerates a few of the mishaps—some of them deadly—that Kinder Morgan’s pipelines have suffered in recent years.

The Facts about Kinder Morgan, Sightline Daily

Many of Kinder Morgan’s coal export operations in the US blight neighborhoods and foul rivers. The company’s track record in the Northwest and beyond is one of pollution, law-breaking, and cover-ups. Moreover, the proposed Oregon terminal would be the company’s biggest yet.

  • In Louisiana, Kinder Morgan’s coal export facilities are so dirty that satellite photos clearly show coal dust pollution spewing into the Mississippi River.
  • In South Carolina, coal dust from Kinder Morgan’s terminal contaminates oysters, pilings, and boats. Locals have even caught the company on video washing coal directly into sensitive waterways.
  • In Virginia, Kinder Morgan’s coal export terminal is an open sore on the neighborhood, coating nearby homes in dust so frequently that even the mayor is speaking out about the problem.
  • In Portland, Kinder Morgan officials bribed a ship captain to illegally dump contaminated material at sea, and their operations have repeatedly polluted the Willamette River.
  • Kinder Morgan has been fined by the US government for stealing coal from customers’ stockpiles, lying to air pollution regulators, illegally mixing hazardous waste into gasoline, and many other crimes.
  • Kinder Morgan’s pipelines are plagued by leaks and explosions, including two large and dangerous spills in residential neighborhoods in British Columbia.

In public, Kinder Morgan likes to point out that the firm already operates coal export facilities in Virginia, South Carolina, and Louisiana. “It’s just a location,” a company’s spokesperson said in the Portland Business Journal about the planned site near Clatskanie.

“What we’re proposing is not something we don’t already do.”

And that’s exactly the problem.


Who is Kinder Morgan? Conversations for Responsible Economic Development (CRED):

Kinder Morgan, Inc. is an U.S. energy transport company headquartered in Houston, Texas. Kinder Morgan was formed in 1997 when former Enron executives Richard Kinder and William Morgan bought Enron’s liquid pipeline assets, Enron Liquids Pipeline, L.P. Its core business is to move fossil fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas, and, increasingly, diluted bitumen from mines and wellheads to utilities, refineries, and manufacturers. It is the 84th largest company in the world and the fourth largest energy company in the United States and owns or operates approximately 80,000 miles of pipelines with an enterprise value of $94 billion.

Safety track record

Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a US-based non-profit organization, has noted that Kinder Morgan has a poor safety record since acquiring a huge network of pipelines in a short time period. The National Response Center, the the sole federal point of contact for reporting oil and chemical spills in the U.S. and its territorial waters, has found Kinder Morgan responsible for more than 1,800 violations since it was incorporated in 1997, nearly 500 of which are pipeline incidents.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline shut after second leak in month, Globe and Mail, June, 2013

As one Kinder Morgan crew worked on stemming an oil leak from its Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia on Thursday, another worked on winning over the province’s reluctant public for a major expansion of the line.

For the second time in as many weeks the company was forced to shut down the only pipeline linking the Alberta oil fields with a westcoast shipping port because of a leak, this one about 40 kilometres east of Hope, B.C.

Trans Mountain Pipeline operators ignored alarms warning of Abbotsford oil spill, Vancouver Sun, November 2012

A National Energy Board report reveals that Trans Mountain Pipeline operators ignored warning alarms for three-and-a-half hours before responding to a gasket failure that resulted in a crude oil spill last January at its Sumas tank farm near Abbotsford.

It took six hours after the first warning sounded for Trans Mountain’s Sumas operator to arrive on the scene, where a spill was discovered.

Merritt pipeline spill raises maintenance concerns, CBC News, June 2013

Kinder Morgan said the spill was detected during regular maintenance on the Trans Mountain pipeline in a remote area near Kingsvale, B.C.…

“The public should be very concerned. This is the fifth spill on that pipeline since 2006 and we’re just very lucky it wasn’t a spill of diluted bitumen as the new pipeline is going to carry,” said Sierra Club of B.C. executive director Sarah Cox.…

Pipeline Investigation Report P05H0044, Transport Canada

A 20 inch pipeline owned by Kinder Morgan leaked crude oil near Abbotsford for more than a week after the company first received complaints. Crude oil was released into the surrounding area and made its way into Kilgard Creek. The pipeline was 43 years old.

Kinder Morgan’s historic oil spills are double the Kalamazoo disaster, Vancouver Observer, May 2014

[Kennedy Stewart] The outspoken MP, well known for his opposition to Kinder Morgan’s $5-billion proposal to now expand the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline, released new federal data on the existing pipeline’s spills. The NEB records date back more than half a century, and show the total volume released by Trans Mountain was 40,000 barrels.The Kalamazoo disaster by Enbridge released 20,000 barrels.

“Over the lifetime of this [Trans Mountain] pipeline, it’s leaked double the amount of the Kalamazoo spill,” said Stewart on Wednesday…

Categories: NEB, Pipelines

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12 replies »

  1. KM puts contaminants in gasoline? That's despicable! Automobile exhaust—which would contain some of the contaminants due to normal internal-combustion engine inefficiency, not to mention the reaction products which may be more toxic than the original contaminant—affects living things that breathe in the lowest atmospheric zone just above ground level: they get an extra heavy dose of exhaust; “they” include foraging birds, cats, dogs and children, who are all less than three feet tall. This fact was probably one of the main reasons the automobile industry was forced to admit its engines could run on unleaded gasoline after all.

    Elemental lead, the toxic heavy metal that causes all sorts of serious health problems if consumed, whether by breathing leaded-gas exhaust or eating contaminated food, was added to aviation fuel as an engine-valve lubricant, and was intended to reduce wear under extreme stress situations airplanes, particularly fighter-planes, regularly endure (you can see this when extreme pressure actually squeezes oil past piston rings and is exhausted as a black mist as a plane is pulling out of a dive.) Ordinary consumer automobiles rarely, if ever, require this kind of lubrication. Yet the refining industry resisted taking lead out of gasoline, with all their considerable might, starting with, ” it can't be done.”. When governments finally made leaded gas illegal, the auto industry moaned and groaned that valves would wear out quicker, or consumers would have to pay a premium to get harder valves that could stand the strain. Scariest part was the spin-off industry that sold gas additives claimed to replace lead, but really made of all sorts of snake-oil concoctions supposed to allay consumer fears fomented by industry; who knows what all got exhausted into the air from that episode.

    Eventually everyone calmed down—their cars didn't need leaded gas in the first place. Point is the whole leaded gas facade collapsed when the health of children was brought up. That's when the rubber-tired colluders finally got the ethical point: hurting innocent children for a tiny, tiny difference in profit is way bad. Industry did try to win, though. Tried really hard. In the end they had to be forced into compliance; that's how despicable the public found knowingly contaminating the environment, but especially kids' environment. Get the feeling KM is of the same evil ilk.


  2. So, is the Sun going to print this? Will CKNW, ever mention this? Will the BC Legislature ever deal with this?

    No, in BC, the truth takes a backseat to profit, it is the Campbell way.


  3. Perhaps students of advanced logic could help me understand why anti-socialist free enterprise governments in Ottawa, Edmonton and Victoria would never tolerate a Canadian state enterprise exploiting Canada's resources but are happy to accommodate state owned enterprises from Malaysia, China, Norway, etc. that come here to exploit Canada's natural resources.

    Just asking because I can't understand the thinking.


  4. Because they don't really have principles or ideals, they want money …. ooh … oooo ooh that's what they want. And once they get in power they spare no public expense changing laws, gutting oversight and slashing taxes in order to please their cooperate masters. And when people finally get sick of them or the heat gets too much they dash off to their new jobs with said companies. We could start a betting pool on where CC will end up.


  5. An excellent piece Norm.

    As to: “KM sounds like a decidedly criminal enterprise. And we're allowing it to expand across B.C. why?”

    It's a case of birds of a feather doing criminal stuff together… is difficult to think of the Campbell/Clark cabals as anything other than a criminal organization..

    It's not just Kinder Morgan either but they love to do business with other criminal corporations as well like……

    Accenture which was Andersen. which had to change its name after years of cooking the books for Kenny “boy” Lay's Enron scam.

    Then there is their pet construction outfit – SNC Lavalin which is banned from doing work in many civilized countries and loves to work for dictators like Ghadaffi.


  6. We would have (purported) access to the books of our state-owned enterprise. Try following the money when it goes through China or Malaysia.

    As for where CC will wind up, she's probably got a lock on the starring role in the Real Housewives of Beijing.


  7. Why hasn't our ten billion dollar a year debt queen, Christy Clark, started up her own state-owned LNG company (Malaysia-Petronas) thereby eliminating the middle man (person) and reaping all of the profits?


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