NEB recommends approving Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain crude expansion

Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) has recommended approval of Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project. The project will add 980-km of pipeline, largely in the existing line’s corridor, boosting crude throughput from Edmonton, Alta., to Burnaby, BC, to 890,000 b/d from 300,000 b/d. Likely export destinations include Asia, California, and Washington state.

NEB’s recommendation included a list of 157 primarily environmental conditions to be met. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Pres. Tim McMillan described the decision as “a milestone for the future of Canada.” McMillan also expressed his confidence in the current regulatory process, saying, “Canadians can have faith in…the decision at the end of the day.”

Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd said NEB’s recommendation “fits a responsible national approach to energy infrastructure…balancing the need for much stronger action on climate change with the need to pay for that action.”

KMI in December 2013 filed a 16,000-page facilities application with NEB for TMX and has been engaged in community outreach since. The government of Canada will make a final decision on the $6.8-billion (Can.) project by yearend. The company plans to start construction in September 2017 and place the expansion in service December 2019.

Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline from Bruderheim, Alta., to Kitimat, BC, was approved in 2014 with 209 conditions (OGJ Online, June 18, 2014). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, has proposed a ban on crude oil tankers off northern British Columbia, placing this project in doubt (OGJ Online, Nov. 16, 2014).

The Canadian Energy Research Institute in a study released earlier this week said it expects both projects to begin operation within the next 5 years despite the delays and opposition each has encountered so far (OGJ Online, May 17, 2016).

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