October 2019, Vol. 246, No. 10


Trans Mountain Restarts Construction on Pipeline Expansion

Trans Mountain Corp restarted construction on parts of its pipeline to nearly triple the flow of crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the British Columbia coast roughly a year after the project’s latest regulatory setback. 

The Trans Mountain pipeline, which the Canadian government bought last year to help ensure the completion of the expansion to 890,000 bpd after years of delay, is fiercely opposed by environmental and some indigenous groups.

Last year, a Canadian court overturned the federal government’s 2016 approval of the project on the grounds it had failed to adequately consult indigenous groups. After a new regulatory review, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government reapproved the pipeline in June, to the relief of Canada’s oil industry.

News that construction is resuming could be a boon to Trudeau’s government, which faces a national election in October. 

Officials will point to progress on the long-delayed project as a sign of Ottawa’s support for the Canadian energy sector at a time when critics accuse the government of undermining the oil patch through carbon pricing and new laws on environmental assessment for major projects.

Work is restarting at the Burnaby storage terminal where the pipeline terminates, and the Westridge marine terminal, where crude is loaded onto tankers, Trans Mountain said in a statement.

The company has also issued notices to some contractors to mobilize construction equipment and crews, said Chief Executive Ian Anderson, adding that work will soon begin in communities along the pipeline’s right-of-way in Alberta between Edmonton and Edson.

“Clearly this project has been subjected to numerous delays and setbacks over the past several years. With today’s announcement on the commencement of construction, I firmly believe that we are finally able to start delivering the significant national and regional benefits we have always committed to,” Anderson said. P&GJ

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