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Emirati Tanker Loads First Oil Cargo From Expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline

An Emirati tanker this week arrived at the port of Vancouver to load the first cargo to be delivered to international oil markets from the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline.

Per a Reuters report, the cargo was 550,000 barrels of Suncor Energy crude, to be delivered to China, according to tanker-tracking data from Kpler.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Suncor had been chartering Aframax tankers aiming to sell its crude on international oil markets without using intermediaries.

Reuters then reported that, according to shipbrokers, due to the lack of availability of pilot and tug boats at the port of Vancouver, combined with loading restrictions, Aframaxes would be restricted to loading 550,000 barrels instead of their 800,000-barrel capacity.

The expanded Trans Mountain pipeline has triple the capacity of the original pipeline, at 890,000 barrels per day, up from 300,000 bpd to carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands to British Columbia on the Pacific Coast. 

The Federal Government of Canada bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) from Kinder Morgan back in 2018, together with related pipeline and terminal assets. That cost the federal government $3.3 billion (C$4.5 billion) at the time. Since then, the costs for the expansion of the pipeline have quadrupled to nearly $23 billion (C$30.9 billion).

The expansion project also experienced a series of delays and legal challenges from activist groups—to the point where most of those set to benefit from it had all but lost hope it would ever see the light of day.

Yet despite all the delays and the opposition, the new Trans Mountains started operations this month—and there are already warnings it would soon fill up as oil sands producers expand their output in response to the additional capacity. According to these, the expanded pipeline will only provide relief to producers looking for new markets for their oil for a couple of years at best.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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