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The controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project made a landmark step forward with the start of construction in Alberta on Tuesday, two weeks before a federal court of appeal is set to hold hearings on challenges to the project.
In August, the Canadian federal government announced that work would resume on the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project. Just a few weeks later, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal said it would allow challenges to the project, filed by six indigenous groups.
The Federal Court of Appeal is set to begin three-day hearings in the challenges in Vancouver, British Columbia, on December 16.
On Tuesday, Trans Mountain began construction at Acheson, Alberta, with pipes expected to be in the ground by Christmas. The company began construction of Spread 1 in Greater Edmonton, which includes some 50 kilometers (31 miles) of pipeline running from Trans Mountain’s Edmonton Terminal in Sherwood Park to Acheson, Alberta.
“If everything goes according to plan, and nothing has for ten years by the way, but if everything goes according to the plan that I have in my mind now, we’ll be finished in mid- third to fourth quarter in 2022,” Trans Mountain CEO Ian Anderson said at the event marking the start of the construction.
The expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline would more than double the oil flow from oil-rich Alberta to British Columbia, and from B.C.—potentially--to export markets in Asia. But British Columbia’s government has been a vocal opponent of the pipeline in bitter disputes with neighboring Alberta.
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Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney said that he was “Encouraged to finally see pipe going in the ground on the @TransMtn Expansion. There’s a long way to go, but this is good news and an important step forward.”
“This Project is supporting workers and will keep our energy sector strong – in the short, medium, and long term. This is a good day for our sector. It’s a good day for Alberta. It’s a good day for Canada,” said Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.
While the construction start of the expansion is a landmark step ahead for the much-delayed project, court challenges remain and “there still is substantial opposition” to the project, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, who opposes the project, told Reuters.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.