Many local residents have been following the hearings that recently began to look into the proposed Enbridge Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat.
Some might not be aware, however, of a proposal that would see similar volumes of oil moving through the North Thompson Valley.
Kinder Morgan, owners of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, is looking at twinning the pipeline all the way from Edmonton to its Westridge terminal in Burnaby.
The upgrade would double Trans Mountain’s capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 600,000 or more.
The pipeline is already doubled from Darfield south to Kamloops, and through Jasper and Mount Robson parks.
If the twinning project goes ahead, it appears local constructio would occur from near Valemount to Darfield. There also would be construction from Jasper to Edmonton, and from Kamloops to Burnaby.
Kinder Morgan is presently holding an “open season” to measure interest from its customers in the increased capacity.
The open season process began in October and will end in mid-February (it was extended from a mid-January deadline).
“The open season seeks commercial commitment from our customers,” explained Kinder Morgan spokesperson Lexa Hobenshield. “In some aspects, it is like a ‘reverse request for proposals’. In simple terms, we propose a package of terms for a potential expansion project and solicit bids from potential customers for contracting capacity on the project.”
According to Hobenshield, the company will decide sometime in the first quarter of 2012 whether or not to proceed, and to what capacity.
“If we have support, our next step will be to initiate a thorough and comprehensive consultation process, environmental and socio-economic assessments, etc. – to develop a regulatory application,” she said.
Hobenshield pointed out that, at present, Trans Mountain provides the only access to the West Coast for Canadian oil products. The pipeline delivers 90 per cent of the gasoline used in the Lower Mainland.
“We are well position for growth,” said the Kinder Morgan spokesperson. “The advantages of expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline are many, the project has an existing footprint, capacity can be added incrementally, which makes it cost effective. We have operating expertise with existing relationships along the pipeline and excellent response capability.”