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Province OKs Pipeline Expansion Plan

Friday, January 13, 2017

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A major oil pipeline expansion is one step closer to reality in western Canada, after getting approval Wednesday (Jan. 11) from the province of British Columbia.

Trans  Mountain Map
Kinder Morgan

Kinder Morgan says 73 percent of the new pipeline would use the same right-of-way as the existing Trans Mountain, 16 percent would follow other linear infrastructure rights-of-way, and 11 percent would require new right-of-way.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is anticipated to increase the capacity of the current Trans Mountain system threefold. Despite opposition from some environmentalists and residents near the Burnaby, BC, terminus of the pipeline, the expansion gained approval from the Canadian government in November, and has now been given the green light by province authorities.

Increasing Crude Exports

The expansion of the Trans Mountain, which begins in Strathcona County, Alberta, has the potential to increase Canadian oil exports to Asia, via oil tankers at the port in Burnaby. According to Canada’s National Energy Board, more than 97 percent of the country’s crude oil exports currently go to the United States.

In October, the NEB released its 2016 annual report, noting that increases in crude production, especially in the western Canadian sedimentary basin, had outstripped pipeline capacity. The agency said that the lack of pipeline capacity was limiting exports.

Environmental, Treaty Duties Fulfilled

The new approval indicates that British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is satisfied that Kinder Morgan completed the environmental review process, and set up processes to respond to any offshore oil spills and to prevent spills over land. The company also had to ensure that aboriginal and treaty rights were accounted for, and that the province would receive economic benefits from the expansion.

Trans Mountain Maintenance
Kinder Morgan

The expansion of the Trans Mountain would largely follow the right-of-way of the current pipeline (shown here undergoing maintenance).

The pipeline expansion is predicted to cost CA$6.8 billion (about $5.2 billion).

Pipeline Details

Houston-based Kinder Morgan says 73 percent of the new pipeline would use the same right-of-way as the existing Trans Mountain, 16 percent would follow other linear infrastructure rights-of-way, and 11 percent would require new right-of-way. The project involves 980 kilometers (609 miles) of new pipeline, and the reactivation of 193 kilometers (120 miles) of deactivated pipeline. It would expand the pipeline system's capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

Orca off British Columbia
digicla, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In December, environmentalists filed suit in an attempt to stop the pipeline, citing threats to endangered orcas that live in the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of British Columbia.

The deactivated pipeline stretches are 24-inch lines, while the new sections will be mostly 36-inch pipe, with some sections of 42-inch. Kinder Morgan plans to coat the pipe with fusion bonded epoxy coatings, and use enhanced protective coatings such as concrete, abrasive-resistant FBE, or polyethylene in rocky areas to reduce the possibility of damage.

Pipeline segments will be tested with a high-voltage holiday detector before being lowered into place, and repairs will be made using an epoxy repair coating before installation.

Challenges

Another major pipeline project, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, was officially rejected by the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November, after having been effectively scuttled in 2015 by a ban on tanker traffic on British Columbia’s northern coast, where the pipeline would have met the sea.

While Kinder Morgan hopes to have the Trans Mountain expansion complete in 2019, the project still faces some hurdles. In December, environmentalists filed suit in an attempt to stop the pipeline, citing threats to endangered orcas that live in the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of British Columbia.

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Government; Latin America; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; Program/Project Management

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