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Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline Back On Track As Regulator Approves Route Change

The Canada Energy Regulator has approved a plan by Trans Mountain Corporation to alter the route of the expanded pipeline that carries crude from Alberta to the West Coast, which will enable the company to complete the expansion by next year.

Earlier this month, Trans Mountain Corporation asked the regulator to approve a change from its approved route on a 1.3-kilometer (0.8 mile) section south of Kamloops, British Columbia.

The current construction method of micro-tunneling through the section is not technically or economically feasible, Trans Mountain has said. If a route change is not approved, the project could face months of delays and hundreds of millions of dollars of cost overruns, it added.

However, the tunnel was a way to avoid crossing Indigenous lands and the local community, the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation, is naturally opposing the alternative route. According to them, the pipeline’s crossing of their lands would do “irreparable harm” to their cultural and spiritual rights, Bloomberg reported.

Originally, the pipeline expansion was set to help Canada export its heavy crude oil to Asia via tankers from the Canadian West Coast. But as the expansion project took years to clear permitting, financial, and construction hurdles, the global crude oil flows changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Fierce opposition towards the project in British Columbia also led to a change of ownership as it forced Kinder Morgan to reconsider its commitment to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would increase the daily capacity of the pipeline to 890,000 barrels per day from 300,000 bpd. So the government of Canada reached an agreement with the company back in 2018 to buy the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and related pipeline and terminal assets.

Per plans and after this latest approval for the route change, the expanded Trans Mountain should go into operation by the end of the first quarter of next year.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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