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'Stalled in the quicksand': Analysts react to end of Teck Frontier mine

Last Updated Feb 24, 2020 at 10:25 am PDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The decision to scrap the Teck Frontier mine proves Canada has become a hostile country for energy investment, according to some analysts.

Over the weekend, Teck Resources pulled the plug on a $20 billion project near Fort McMurray.

The decision came hours after an agreement was reached with the Alberta government, the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations for the oilsands project.

RELATEDAlberta and two First Nations make deal for proposed oilsands mine

Economist Jack Mintz with the School of Public Policy said the decision will only inflame Canada’s east-west divide.

“This is really concerning. I think that we are in the depth of a major national unity crisis, and that is because of the lack of leadership to develop, what I call, a grand-bargain over-responsible resource development.”

Mintz adds there’s already a view that Canada is a hostile place for oil and gas development, and the country’s political climate is driving away investment.

“Now we’ve just seen two approved projects, both Teck and the Coastal gas link, the latter being delayed now. I think this is just an indicator of the fact that Canada’s getting stalled in the quicksand and sinking deep.”

In a letter sent to the federal government, Teck Resources said the current political situation soured the project.

“We are disappointed to have arrived at this point,” the letter reads. “Teck put forward a socially and environmentally responsible project that was industry-leading and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians.”

“However, global capital markets are changing rapidly, and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products.”

Analyst Tim Pickering with Auspice Capital understands Teck’s motive to pull the project, saying the political decks are stacked against the energy sector.

“I think every Canadian should read the letter from the CEO to Minister Wilkinson and see what they think of it, what this was about. Nowhere in that letter did the CEO of Teck say we’re pulling out because the oil price is too low.”

Pickering said the big winners of Teck’s decision would be the United States, Russia and other major oil producers.

The Liberal cabinet was expected to discuss the project at its meeting on Tuesday and had until the end of the week to make a decision,

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change John Wilkinson said cabinet would no longer make that decision.