Trans Mountain Expansion Project Begins Operations After Delays and Cost Overruns

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Trans Mountain Expansion Project Begins Operations After Delays and Cost Overruns

Flag of Canada (© Shutterstock/Tatohra)
Flag of Canada (© Shutterstock/Tatohra)

The Long-delayed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project officially commenced commercial operations on May 1, 2024, the company announced on Wednesday. 

According to the announcement, the operationalization of the expansion project marks the start of oil deliveries subject to the expanded system's tariff and tolls, with tanker loading from Line 2 expected by mid-May.

Line filling is ongoing and projected to be completed within the next few weeks, with both the existing and expanded pipelines now operational, allowing Trans Mountain to load cargoes from all three berths. As of April 30, 2024, the expanded pipeline was 70% full by volume and 69% complete by distance.

"Trans Mountain has demonstrated the feasibility of building challenging, long-distance infrastructure in Canada," said Dawn Farrell, President and CEO of Trans Mountain Corporation. 

"Our team successfully constructed 988 kilometers of new pipeline, reactivated 193 kilometers, built 12 new pump stations, 19 new storage tanks, and three new berths at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, all while adhering to the highest environmental, safety, and social standards, including collaboration with local First Nations and Métis communities throughout the process."

Trans Mountain expressed gratitude to its numerous contractors, partners, and stakeholders, including First Nations and Métis communities, local and provincial governments, parent company Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV), customers, regulators, and employees who contributed to the project's success.

The C$34-billion (US$25 billion) Trans Mountain expansion, initially a troubled private-sector initiative, was acquired by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government in 2018 to ensure its completion. The pipeline will now transport an additional 600,000 barrels of oil daily from Alberta to Canada's Pacific coast for overseas shipping.

Built alongside an existing 1,150-kilometer pipeline constructed in 1953 that already moves about 300,000 barrels of oil per day, the expansion aims to increase market access for Canada, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, and improve the value received for its crude.

However, the project faced regulatory delays, cost overruns, legal challenges, and protests from environmental groups and some Indigenous communities.

On the eve of its opening, University of British Columbia professor George Hoberg described it as "a big win for Alberta but a huge loss for environmentalists concerned about the climate crisis and potential spills" from the pipeline or tankers, which could have devastating consequences for wildlife, including endangered orcas, France24 reported on Tuesday, April 30. 

He further warned AFP that the project could also deliver "a really big blow" to the Trudeau government's efforts at reconciliation with First Nations who unsuccessfully attempted to block the expansion through legal means.

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