Four of Canada’s biggest banks are key Trans Mountain lenders: filings

(Adds majority owner of Kinder Morgan Canada in fourth

By Ethan Lou

Four of Canada’s
biggest banks are the largest providers of C$5.5 billion ($4.16
billion) in credit for Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd’s Trans
Mountain pipeline expansion project, the company said in
regulatory filings on Thursday.

Along with 20 other banks backing the expansion, they are
expected to face increasing pressure from environmental and
indigenous activists, who have said they would ask the financial
institutions to drop Trans Mountain once they are named.

Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of
Commerce, Bank of Nova Scotia and
Toronto-Dominion Bank provided nearly a third of the
credit, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission.

The four lenders to Kinder Morgan Canada, majority-owned by
Kinder Morgan Inc of Houston, did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.

Energy infrastructure projects in Canada have faced
opposition from environmental groups and aboriginal communities
whose land they cross.

Opposition to Trans Mountain’s expansion is set to mount
after the effective rise of an unfriendly provincial government
last month in Canada’s British Columbia, which the pipeline
passes through.

A coalition of more than 20 indigenous and environmental
organizations this month called on 28 major banks – including
all four of the main lenders – to back away from Trans Mountain.

Jason Opena Disterhoft, senior campaigner for Rainforest
Action Network, one of the groups, said the banks have chosen to
back the expansion despite being aware of what he says are the
environmental impacts.

“We are in communication with those banks,” he said. “We’ll
be following up with them and holding them to account.”

One bank targeted by the groups’ letter has since publicly
distanced itself from the expansion. ING Groep NV of
the Netherlands said last week on Twitter that it is not among
the banks funding Trans Mountain.

A bank spokesman said on Thursday it does not lend to
projects directly linked to oil sands.

The Trans Mountain expansion almost triples the capacity of
the existing pipeline, which is designed to carry crude from
Canada’s oil sands to the West Coast.

The expansion has obtained both federal and regulatory
approvals and has passed an environmental assessment under
British Columbia’s incumbent Liberal Party, which lost its
legislative majority in a May 9 election.

The opposition Greens and New Democrats parties, both of
which oppose Trans Mountain’s expansion, have sealed a deal to
unseat the Liberals.
($1 = 1.3231 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Ethan Lou; Editing by G Crosse and Lisa Shumaker)

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