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Kinder Morgan hopes to triple Trans Mountain pipeline

BURNABY (NEWS1130) – Kinder Morgan hopes to push through an even larger expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline between Alberta and Metro Vancouver, tripling its current capacity.

The company doesn’t seem too worried about environmental opposition as it tries to take advantage of Asian demand for Canadian oil.

Kinder Morgan President Ian Anderson says there has been positive reaction from investors and foreign markets but admits not everyone will be happy about the move.

The expansion would mean more tankers in Burrard Inlet and a pipeline increased to three feet in diameter.  “It will mean some alterations to project design,” Anderson admits. “It will include larger pipe size in some locations.  It will include somewhat more shipping traffic from our Westridge Dock Facility in Vancouver.”

“We will not have the capability of transporting 890,000 barrels a day, which is about a 20 per cent increase from our previous proposed project of 750,000 barrels a day of capacity.”

It also moves the project cost from $4.1 billion to $5.4 billion.  If approved, Kinder Morgan hopes to have the work done by the end of 2017.  The Texas-based pipeline giant says the further increase is in response to customer demand.

Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer says the city was taken by surprise by Kinder Morgan’s latest plans.

“Really what we’d like to see is a regulatory framework that allows municipalities the ability to input much earlier, so it’s not as much proponent driven.”

Council is already a vocal opponent of the project, but Reimer says today’s developments highlight a flawed process.  She adds the larger expansion translates into a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s statement on Kinder Morgan

Today’s announcement by Kinder Morgan proposing a much larger pipeline expansion heightens our serious concerns about the risks to our local economy and environment by a worst-case oil spill in or near our harbour.

Kinder Morgan’s new proposal would amount to a staggering seven-fold increase in heavy oil supertankers through Vancouver’s busy harbour. Any serious spill would jeopardize tens of thousands of jobs and could leave taxpayers and businesses on the hook for billions of dollars in clean-up costs and losses.

Why the expansion?

As mentioned, the reason for the further increase in the Trans Mountain pipeline’s capacity is simple: demand.

Currently, the line from Alberta to the port in Burnaby can currently carry 300,000 barrels a day, but Kinder Morgan says the near-tripling of its capacity is driven by 13 customers who have signed binding, long-term contracts to use it.

Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart says the public is not being included in all these talks.  “Even if the National Energy Board rejects this new pipeline, the minister can override it.  So in the end what I think it’s going to come down to is public pressure outside of the official process that is going to stop this pipeline.”

The company has set its sights on Asia, which pays the world price for oil instead of the North American benchmark which today is about $18 a barrel less.  That’s more than $5 million a day at the current capacity, but at the proposed level would mean an extra $16 million for Canada every day.