Public consultation this fall on pipeline expansion

Kinder Morgan Canada plans to begin the process this September.

  • Jul. 15, 2012 9:00 a.m.
Kinder Morgan's tank farm on Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford was the site of an oil spill in January of this year.

Kinder Morgan's tank farm on Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford was the site of an oil spill in January of this year.

by Wanda Chow, Black Press

The long-awaited public consultation process on the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is set to start in September, said a Kinder Morgan Canada spokesperson.

The company plans to twin the pipeline, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, (through Abbotsford), increasing capacity from the current 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 750,000 bpd to allow for increased exports overseas of bitumen crude oil from the Alberta oil sands.

Lexa Hobenshield, the company’s external relations manager, said if the expansion proceeds, 510,000 bpd of that capacity would serve the fixed 20-year contracts customers recently committed to, while the rest would serve month-to-month customers. Those would include Chevron’s Burnaby refinery and others that have struggled in the last couple years with the limitations of a pipeline that has been “oversubscribed.”

Hobenshield explained that 25 to 30 per cent of the existing 1,150-km pipeline is already twinned, so the company will be applying to the National Energy Board (NEB) to twin the remaining 900 km.

Kinder Morgan will file its expansion application with the NEB in late 2013, which will include a “potential corridor.” If the NEB gives the go-ahead to the project, then the company would come up with a detailed specific route which would go through its own NEB approval process.

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart has been raising awareness of the potential for property along the route to be expropriated for the project if it goes ahead.

“The Lower Mainland is a very good example of an area where we will need to look at alternatives (to the existing corridor),” Hobenshield said.

“Final decisions on routing will be done both through our consultation process and through routing studies.”

The 60-year-old pipeline has long had easement agreements with landowners along the route. “With our proposed expansion process, our goal is to negotiate mutually agreeable arrangements with individual landowners if they are impacted by our expansion plans.”

It’s too early to know what the proposed routing is and what properties might be impacted, she said, noting factors to be considered include urban development, geography, such as rivers and steep mountains, and locations between highways and railroads.

“In lots of areas it’s not going to be practical to route within the existing right of way,” she said, adding one possibility the company might look at is running the sections of new pipeline within other transportation or utility corridors.

Its NEB application late next year will provide a general idea of where the pipeline may run, she said, noting it will be applying for a 150-metre (492-foot) wide corridor.

If approved by the NEB, it would then seek approval for a specific route within that corridor, that typically requires a right-of-way 18 metres (60 feet) wide.

It would be another year, around late 2014, before the specifics of the route are determined.

In the next couple of weeks, the company will make a commercial tolling application, seeking NEB approval of its fee, or tolling, structure for the post-expansion pipeline, essentially asking it to approve the fees on the agreements it signed in the fixed contracts.

If it receives all the required approvals, Kinder Morgan will spend $4 billion and two years building the expansion, which would then go into service in late 2017.

The company will provide updates at transmountain.com and answer questions from the public at info@transmountain.com and 866-514-6700.

In Abbotsford, the pipeline runs to a pumping station on Sumas Prairie, up to a tank farm on Sumas Mtn., past the Auguston area, and down to Matsqui Prairie, where it generally follows the Fraser River to Burnaby.

A 110,000-litre spill took place at the Abbotsford tank farm in January of this year.