Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson expects the beleaguered Trans Mountain Pipeline to begin shipping oil “very soon,” as the federal government is having active discussions concerning its sale.

Wilkinson told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview on Wednesday that the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion could see oil flowing through its pipes in short order.

“I think the Trans Mountain Corporation has been saying that they expect that oil will start to flow within the next few months,” he said. “I would probably be at risk of being wrong if I gave you a specific date, but it is certainly very soon and that is something that obviously is the culmination of an enormous amount of work over the course of the past number of years.”

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project twins an existing pipeline that runs from Edmonton to the coast of British Columbia, but has faced several delays and cost overruns. Estimates from earlier this week show the project will cost another $3.1 billion than expected, bringing its total cost to about $34 billion, more than 600 per cent of the original budget.

Despite the challenges of the project, Wilkinson still expects to sell the government-owned pipeline.

“The government certainly does not intend to be the long-term owner of the Trans Mountain Pipeline,” he said. “There are certainly active discussions and consultations going on with respect to the right way to actually sell this. I think we've been very clear that there would need to be Indigenous participation in an acquisition and certainly those talks are ongoing.”

“I would expect that once the pipeline is operating, that those talks will accelerate because the government has no intention of being the long-term owner.” 

EV charging stations

Wilkinson was speaking BNN Bloomberg to announce $5 million in funding to bring 500 new electric vehicle charging stations to Toronto.

“It's going to make charging more charging infrastructure, more ubiquitous, so people actually are increasingly comfortable that as they actually drive their electric vehicle or purchase an electric vehicle that they will be able to find places to charge them,” he said.

Wilkinson added that the federal government has committed to bringing 85,000 charging stations to Canada by 2030, which would put it on track to bring in 200,000 such stations to the country when adding projections from industry.

With files from Bloomberg News