Canada province sets task force in oil versus wine trade battle

FILE PHOTO -- Replacement pipe is stored near crude oil storage tanks at Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline terminal in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada’s oil-rich province of Alberta ramped up its fight with western neighbor British Columbia over a crude oil pipeline expansion on Friday, announcing a task force to prepare new retaliatory measures in the trade battle.

British Columbia last week provoked the ire from Alberta when it said it would restrict increased oil shipments through the province, a move seen as an attack on Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Alberta retaliated by halting purchases of British Columbia wine, and asked the federal government to step in to assert its jurisdiction over the C$7.4 billion ($5.9 billion)project, which was approved by Canada in 2016.

The expansion project would nearly triple capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, which extends from Alberta’s energy heartland to a Vancouver area port, helping get more Canadian crude to tide water for export.

The task force, established by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, includes former politicians, business leaders and a legal scholar.

Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Chris Reese