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The province of British Columbia has put one more hurdle in front of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline project by proposing new rules that would result in cuts in oil shipments across its territory.
The environmental ministry of British Columbia, whose new government is bent on preventing the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline from coming into being, has devised new rules for oil spill preparedness and response. As part of their journey from proposal to regulation, the ministry will set up a scientific advisory panel to look into whether a diluted bitumen spill in the water can be cleaned up.
While the panel works, the ministry has proposed a ban on any increase in heavy crude shipments. From Kinder Morgan’s and the Alberta oil industry’s perspective, it is easy to see this move as a stalling tactic: environmental minister George Heyman has said there was no timeline for the panel, adding that if the work is to be done thoroughly, it could take a couple of years.
Last year, the new BC government announced that it stands firmly against the extension of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline and will seek ways to block its construction despite a green light from the federal government. In August, George Heyman and Attorney General David Eby announced they had hired a former B.C. Supreme Court judge and NDP leader in the province to consult on the best ways to approach the indefinite suspension of the pipeline project. In this fight, the government is joining First Nations and environmentalist groups opposing the construction of a new oil pipeline.
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Earlier this month, Kinder Morgan said it would have to delay the start of the Trans Mountain expansion by another three months, to December 2020, its chief executive Steve Kean said at the presentation of the company’s fourth-quarter results.
The US$5.95-billion expansion project still needs to gather all necessary permit approvals, Keane said, adding that the other reason for the delay was “because we've not completed the work necessary with our contractors to determine where we can save time and money on the build and we don't have a clear view of when the starting point is for that.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.