Construction on a section of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion. Courtesy of Trans Mountain Expansion Project

Kinder Morgan suspended work on its Trans Mountain Expansion project on Sunday night, in the face of continued opposition from the British Columbia government.

The announcement came a couple of days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with energy sector leaders, Indigenous communities and oil sands workers in Fort McMurray to tout the federal government's efforts to get pipelines built.

In a press release announcing the company would stop “non-essential spending” on the pipeline, Kinder Morgan chairman and CEO Steve Kean said Kinder Morgan does not wish to put shareholders at risk in light of the current political climate. “A company cannot resolve differences between governments,” Kean said.

The company said it needed to reach certain agreements to allow the project to proceed before May 31 or it would be “difficult to conceive of any scenario in which we would proceed” due to the project’s construction time frames.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley remained adamant the project would go on, as tensions escalate between her province and B.C. In a press conference, Notley hinted at “severe economic consequences” for B.C. in the coming days while calling on the federal government to act on behalf of Alberta. She said Alberta would consider taking a public position in the pipeline in a bid to do “whatever it takes” to see it built.

Kinder Morgan has spent $1.1 billion of the $7.4 billion set aside for the expansion.

In a statement released on Sunday, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr called on B.C. Premier John Horgan to “end all threats of delay to the Trans Mountain Expansion,” adding “[B.C.’s] government’s actions stand to harm the entire Canadian economy.”

Horgan doubled down on the province's stance that the pipeline poses too great an environmental risk in a Sunday evening statement. "British Columbians expect their government to stand up for their interests and our coast, and to do everything we can to protect our land and waters, our coastal communities and our local economies," he said. "The federal process failed to consider B.C.’s interests and the risk to our province."

British Columbia’s NDP government has previously said it would use “every tool available” to fight the expansion. Most recently, the government announced in February it would appeal a National Energy Board decision allowing Kinder Morgan to bypass certain local construction bylaws and move forward with the expansion. In late January, the province proposed regulations to restrict the flow of diluted bitumen through the pipeline until it studied whether those spills could be safely cleaned up.

The government also obtained intervener status in a legal challenge to the project in August.