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Canada signs off on parts of overhaul to a westward oil pipeline

Pipeline company Kinder Morgan working to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain oil pipeline to the coast of British Columbia.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Canadian energy regulator signs off on environmental plans for an overhaul for a port to handle an expansion to a crude oil pipeline. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Canadian energy regulator signs off on environmental plans for an overhaul for a port to handle an expansion to a crude oil pipeline. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A Canadian regulator said it was satisfied with the environmental protection plans necessary for part of the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

Canada has pushed to diversify its export options away from the United States. Pipeline company Kinder Morgan secured approval to expand the capacity of its Trans Mountain oil network to western Canadian ports.

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Even before the U.S. government took a tougher trade line with its northern neighbor, Alberta Premier, Rachel Notely said breaking Alberta's landlock through Trans Mountain fixes "a problem that has dogged our province for decades."

Developers outlined the need to build three new berths at a port in British Columbia. Once completed, tanker loadings of about 34 per month are expected.

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The National Energy Board said in a letter to Kinder Morgan and the Trans Mountain Pipeline unlimited liability corporation it was satisfied that planners had fulfilled their obligations to an environmental protection plan for the Westbrige Marine Terminal in Barnaby, B.C.

"As a result, the board is of the view that Trans Mountain has now satisfied all applicable NEB pre-construction conditions for the Westridge Marine Terminal," the regulator stated.

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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.

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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.

"Public safety and the protection of the environment is of paramount importance to the NEB, and will hold Trans Mountain accountable for its performance during the construction and operation of this project, including full compliance with all regulatory requirements and commitments," NEB Board Member David Hamilton said.

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