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Canada closer to breaking oil landlock

Pipeline company Kinder Morgan to triple volume of westbound Trans Mountain network.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Canada closer to breaking oil landlock
Canadian regulator moves forward with review process for the planned expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline to the west coast. Pictured, a protest of survey drilling on Burnaby Mountain by U.S. firm Kinder Morgan for their proposed second pipeline, November 23, 2014. File photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A review board in Canada said it started a detailed approval process for the route of the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline to the western shore.

The National Energy Board said it approved a proposed draft for the detailed route of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The regulator said pipeline company Kinder Morgan must now submit actual plans for each segment of the detailed route and notify any landowners whose property would be crossed.

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"Trans Mountain must also publish notices in local newspapers along the pipeline route," the NEB said in a statement.

Kinder Morgan would nearly triple the capacity of the network to around 890,000 barrels of oil per day from a pipeline system that leaked around 25 barrels of oil in June 2014.

RELATED Both sides of the border praise Keystone XL

For Alberta, an oil-rich province that saw drastic economic downturns last year because of the low price of oil, the NEB's conditional approval earlier this year meant it was one step closer to breaking a landlock.

Nearly all of Canada's oil exports target the U.S. market and the expansion could open trade corridors outside North America. City and tribal leaders have objected to the expansion, however. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said moving forward with the expansion could spoil his city's reputation gained from a green agenda that helped create more than 90,000 jobs last year.

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The U.S. government, meanwhile, is moving in favor of Canadian oil infrastructure as President Donald Trump aims to reverse policies from his predecessor on projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta to southern U.S. refiners.

RELATED General praise for tripling Canadian oil pipeline

On Friday, the U.S. State Department, tasked with vetting cross-border pipelines, said it found no major environmental problems presented by a plan by Alberta-based Enbridge Energy Partners to increase the capacity of the existing Alberta Clipper pipeline, which carries oil over the border.

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