Chevron is one step closer to learning whether the Burnaby refinery will have priority access to oil coming down Kinder Morgan's pipeline.
Chevron filed an application with the National Energy Board in July, in attempts to secure a more steady supply of oil from the pipeline amidst rising demand, and the board announced Friday that the application will be heard in January.
Kinder Morgan charges customers to transport oil products from Alberta to B.C. via the Trans Mountain pipeline, and one of the customers is Burnaby's Chevron refinery.
Because demand to use the pipeline has been higher than its maximum capacity, shippers have received less oil than what they would like, including Chevron.
"Since late 2010, recurrent and ongoing apportionment on the pipeline has repeatedly reduced and continues to threaten the supply of crude required by the Burnaby refinery," said Chevron's Ray Lord in a July company statement.
At times, Chevron has received up to 70 per cent less than requested, prompting the company to apply for priority access.
If the National Energy Board approves the application, oil destined to the refinery would get priority access when demand on the pipeline's capacity is high.
To be eligible for priority access, the company has to show that it's already connected to the pipeline, which it is, and that it's not economically feasible to bring in oil using other methods, (by ship, rail, or truck, for example), which is also the case for the refinery.
Kinder Morgan is planning to more than double the line's capacity, but even if the company gets approval to expand, that would not necessarily solve Chevron's supply issue, because demand for Canadian crude is so high right now, according to Lord.
The board hearing is scheduled for Jan. 15 in Calgary, Alta. Members of the public can participate by applying for intervenor status or filing a "letter of comment." The deadline to apply for intervenor status is Aug. 24, while the letter of comment deadline is Oct. 30.
For more on the process, go to www.neb-one.gc.ca.