Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Pipeline company Kinder Morgan said it firmed up its relationship with some of the contractors lined up for the expansion of the Trans Mountain line in Canada.
Two contracts were signed for the construction of segments of the planned expansion. The company said those represent formal arrangements with two of the six companies that agreed to take part under a September memorandum of understanding.
"The remaining four are expected to be signed in the near future," Kinder Morgan said in a statement.
Canada is the fourth largest producer of oil and natural gas liquid in the world, but export capacity is constricted because pipeline capacity hasn't kept pace with production. Nearly all of Canada's oil exports head to the United States.
The country's National Energy Board approved of Kinder Morgan's plans to triple the capacity of the network to around 890,000 barrels of oil per day in November, though vetting is still under way for some aspects. The project is part of a national effort to tap into markets outside North America.
Western Canadian leaders, meanwhile, have expressed concerns about Trans Mountain's expansion and the increase in tanker traffic. In early August, British Columbian Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman and Attorney General David Eby said they secured legal counsel to challenge Kinder Morgan's project.
On the pipeline itself, Kinder Morgan said the existing 715-mile network has been in service for nearly 65 years with few safety problems. Its supplies eventually make up about 90 percent of the gasoline in many markets in British Columbia.
The NEB completed a pre-construction audit in September and found planners haven't yet laid out plans regarding safety and environmental protection during the build process. Route hearings for Trans Mountain are scheduled in British Columbia next year.