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The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion could be set back by nine months unless regulators approve a proposed change of its route.
The original route of the expanded pipeline was planned to involve some tunneling to avoid going through Indigenous lands. That, however, appears to have presented a significant engineering challenge for the Trans Mountain project operator. As a result, it proposed an alternative to the tunneling.
Naturally, the local Indigenous community, called the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation, is opposing the alternative routing, saying it would cause irreparable harm to its cultural and spiritual rights, according to Bloomberg.
The Trans Mountain expansion aims to triple the capacity of the original pipeline that carries Alberta crude through British Columbia to the west coast of Canada.
Trans Mountain Corporation warned the Canada Energy Regulator about the danger of a delay earlier this month but did not specify how long the delay would be. Now, it would be adding nine months to an already extensive series of delays that have caused the price tag of the project to balloon to almost $23 billion.
Initially, the pipeline expansion was set to help Canada export its heavy crude oil to Asia via tankers from the Canadian West Coast. But as the expansion project took years to clear permitting, financial, and construction hurdles, the global crude oil flows changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Fierce opposition in British Columbia has forced Kinder Morgan to reconsider its commitment to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would increase the daily capacity of the pipeline to 890,000 barrels per day from 300,000 bpd. So the government of Canada reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan back in 2018 to buy the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and related pipeline and terminal assets.
If the latest delay does materialize, the expansion would not be completed until the end of 2024, Trans Mountain Corporation said.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.