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TC Energy names Tracy Robinson as head of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in British Columbia.

Chris Bolin/chris bolin The Globe and Mail

TC Energy Corp. has appointed one of its senior executives to become president of its partly owned Coastal GasLink, naming Tracy Robinson as head of the $6.6-billion pipeline project in British Columbia.

David Pfeiffer, who served as Coastal GasLink president for 19 months, has left TC Energy, according to a source familiar with the executive change. The Globe and Mail has agreed not to name the source because they were not authorized to speak on the matter publicly.

Ms. Robinson, who is an executive vice-president at Calgary-based TC Energy and president of the company’s Canadian natural gas pipelines, will add Coastal GasLink president to her duties in directly overseeing the project.

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The 670-kilometre pipeline has been under construction since early 2019, with the goal to start testing for transporting natural gas from northeast B.C. to the West Coast in late 2023. The pipeline would supply LNG Canada, which is building an $18-billion terminal in Kitimat, B.C., and plans to begin exporting liquefied natural gas to Asia in 2025.

TC Energy spokeswoman Suzanne Wilton declined comment on Mr. Pfeiffer, but confirmed Ms. Robinson’s appointment. “In this role, she assumes overall accountability for all aspects of the project including project execution, stakeholder relations and commercial management,” Ms. Wilton said in a statement.

Ms. Robinson joined TC Energy in 2014, after a 27-year career at Calgary-based Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

TC Energy, which owns 35 per cent of Coastal GasLink, completed the sale of a 65-per-cent stake in the pipeline venture in May to Alberta Investment Management Corp. and KKR & Co.

TC Energy has set aside a 10-per-cent equity stake in Coastal GasLink for possible sale to 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline route.

Coastal GasLink has reached benefit agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the route, including five elected councils within the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

A group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who maintain they have jurisdiction and authority over their unceded traditional territory, oppose the pipeline project. About 190 kilometres of the route cross the Wet’suwet’en’s territory, known as their “yin tah.”

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Ms. Robinson’s latest appointment marks the second time in 19 months that a new Coastal GasLink president has been named.

On Feb. 1, 2019, Mr. Pfeiffer replaced Rick Gateman, who headed the pipeline project for nearly seven years. Mr. Pfeiffer previously worked as TC Energy’s vice-president overseeing projects in Mexico before he joined Coastal GasLink.

“It shows the problems they are having with this project,” said John Ridsdale, chief of Rafters on Beaver House, which is one of 13 Wet’suwet’en hereditary house groups.

“Two presidents gone in a relatively short period of time definitely highlights the numerous issues they face,” Mr. Ridsdale, who goes by the hereditary name Na’Moks, said in a text message to The Globe on Sunday.

In a speech in January at an energy conference, Ms. Robinson said the “reality is that we will be partners with the Wet’suwet’en communities and neighbours with the Indigenous people across the route for the next 40 years.”

In February, protests and blockades spread across Canada in support of the group of hereditary chiefs who are fighting Coastal GasLink.

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Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs signed a deal in May to have governments recognize their governance system. The memorandum of understanding with the B.C. and federal governments affirms an expedited process for Wet’suwet’en hereditary house groups to hold sway over Indigenous rights and title. The hereditary chiefs' dispute with Coastal GasLink is not part of the memorandum and remains unresolved.

Coastal GasLink is also seeking to tackle technical challenges. It has told one of the prime contractors, Macro Spiecapag Joint Venture, to focus on the route’s final 84-kilometre section that has mountainous terrain and steep slopes.

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