​Pembina sending unit trains of propane to Quebec 'in the spirt of unity'

Image: Canadian Energy Regulator

Pembina Pipeline Corp. is stepping up to ease a looming propane shortage in eastern Canada sparked by a railway stoppage, striking a chord for national unity at the same time as east-west tensions grow.

Calgary-based Pembina plans to ship propane to parts of Canada, including Quebec, in a bid to help “fellow Canadians.”

The midstream operator is preparing unit trains, made up of 105 cars, with propane sourced from western Canada, the company said in a statement late Sunday.

“We believe the provinces can work together in the spirit of unity to secure a safe, reliable and long-term supply of energy from each other, rather than from foreign countries who do not share Canadian values,” it said in its release. “The best question is: why would we not?” said Chief Executive Officer Michael Dilger.

Canadian National Railway Co. is embroiled in a strike with 3,200 conductors and railyard operators, leading to a massive disruption of transporting cargoes of everything from wheat to propane. Shares of CN Rail slumped 2.1% last week, its biggest weekly decline in about two months.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference said on Friday reports of propane shortages in Ontario and Quebec appear to be largely manufactured by CN Rail, adding that more than 1,800 locomotive engineers and 600 supervisors are free to continue to cross picket lines and operate freight trains. But Montreal-based CN Rail argued that “very limited” amounts of various commodities are moving across Canada, and it only has a “small pool of qualified managers” who can operate in current conditions.

Pembina’s helping hand comes as the nation’s separatist movement is gaining ground in western Canada. Albertans have become increasingly frustrated with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Canadian crude oil prices slump, strained by pipeline bottlenecks and the exodus of multinational companies.

In Quebec, meanwhile, the separatist party Bloc Quebecois played a role in reducing Trudeau’s Liberal government to a minority administration by claiming more than 30 seats across Quebec.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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