Four new storage tanks have been constructed at Trans Mountain’s Edmonton terminal to prepare for opening of the oil pipeline expansion from Alberta to Westridge Terminal in Burnaby B.C. (Trans Mountain)

Trans Mountain begins laying Alberta pipeline for expansion

Construction continues at Westridge terminal in Burnaby B.C.

Trans Mountain Corp. has begun laying pipe across the Alberta segment of its oil pipeline twinning project, expecting to have the first pipe welded, tested and buried by Christmas.

Construction so far has included completion of four new storage tanks at the federal government-owned company’s Edmonton Terminal, and continued work on the Westridge Terminal facilities at Burnaby to accommodate additional tankers for exporting crude.

Pipe is being assembled on the Greater Edmonton section, with clearing, grading, utility relocation and worksite preparations for a series of tunnel-bored sections. Horizontal drilling is planned for 13 sections on the Alberta side of the project, to cross watercourses, railways, major roads, sensitive environmental areas and urban areas, Trans Mountain said in its latest project update.

Trenchless construction is also expected to play a large role in the B.C. section of the project, where thousands of property owners have moved in along the right-of-way since the original Trans Mountain was built in 1954.

Trenchless construction is also expected to play a large role in the B.C. section of the project, where thousands of property owners have moved in along the right-of-way since the original Trans Mountain was built in 1954 to supply refineries at Burnaby and Washington state as well as tanker exports from Burnaby.

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The B.C. government has continued to oppose the Trans Mountain expansion, supported by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, despite increased crude by rail coming through Alberta and B.C. to Washington since the existing Trans Mountain line became over-subscribed.

In a year-end interview with Black Press, B.C. Premier John Horgan acknowledged that construction is likely to intensify an already acute shortage of skilled construction workers, as work camps and gas pipeline spreads take shape across northern B.C. to supply the LNG Canada project from Dawson Creek to Kitimat.

B.C. is using a union-only construction model to build the Kicking Horse Pass and other sections of the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border, as well as replacing the Pattullo Bridge and building the Broadway subway line in Metro Vancouver. A skilled labour shortage is driving up costs on those projects, Horgan said.

“And at the same time we have private sector projects like LNG Canada, and potentially the Trans Mountain pipeline, that are going to be taking a whole bunch of workers out of play when it comes to public contracts, and that’s a challenge for government,” Horgan said.

From the Greater Edmonton section, the Trans Mountain right of way goes to Edson, Hinton, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Wabamun before reaching the Jasper-Mount Robson stretch where twinning was done a decade ago.

Entering B.C. in the North Thompson region, the pipeline route goes by Avola, Barriere, Blue River, Clearwater, Valemount and Vavenby, where the forest industry has been wound down due to market conditions and loss of lumber to beetle infestations and fires.

At West Barriere, another existing expansion section will be tested and activated, running from a pump station north of Barriere to a new Black Pines pump station north of Kamloops. From there the project goes past Kamloops and Merritt, then down the Coquihalla Pass to Hope.

The project proceeds down theFraser Valley through Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley, then into the heavily populated Lower Mainland through Langley, Surrey, Coquitlam and Burnaby.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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