Kinder Morgan has bigger plans in store for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The company announced Thursday that it plans to increase the Trans Mountain line's capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 890,000, effectively tripling the amount of oil that will be shipped from Alberta to the West Coast. Until now, the plan was to expand to 750,000 barrels. The larger expansion plan also means the project's price tag has gone from $4.1 billion to $5.4 billion.
The move came following commitments from additional shipper who have signed long-term contracts with Kinder Morgan to move oil through the pipeline.
"Thirteen customers in the Canadian producing and oil marketing business have now signed binding, long-term contracts, which demonstrates the need for this proposed expansion that will serve both existing and new markets," said Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, in a press release.
"Trans Mountain has an existing footprint, established relationships and a superb safety record," Anderson added. "Over the next several months, we'll be doing additional engineering work and studies to assess how the increased capacity will impact the scope of the project. We will continue our open and inclusive engagement program already underway with landowners, communities and aboriginal groups."
Kinder Morgan still has to apply to the National Energy Board for project approval before the plan can go ahead, and the company is expecting to do that later this year.
Karl Perrin, spokesperson for Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion, was saddened by the announcement.
"More oil, more spills, more tankers, more everything, right? It's more proportional," he said. "It means we have a bigger enemy, and we have to fight harder."
Kinder Morgan initially announced it wanted to twin the existing line to increase capacity to 850,000 barrels, then the company lowered it to 750,000 and now they are up to 890,000, he pointed out.
"It's in the wrong direction, for sure, I'd rather it being going lower than higher, 890,000 rounds up to triple what they are doing now, which is even scarier," he said. "On the one hand, it gives us more ammunition."
"If you have 890,000 (barrels) per day, imagine the traffic coming through Burrard Inlet. You've either got more tankers or bigger tankers," Perrin added.
Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart was also concerned.
"My concerns are the same, that when I talk to local constituents, they are most upset about the devastating impacts on property values," he said. "The second of course (is) increased tanker traffic and what that means for industrial activity here in Burnaby."
Not only will we have more tanker traffic, we will likely see more chemical processing in Burnaby, Stewart added.
"That means dealing with benzene, which is the compound used to dilute the bitumen," he said.
Stewart said that Kinder Morgan just finished the first of their "dog-and-pony shows" around the province, presenting information to the public using the 750,000-barrel capacity figure.
"They weren't real consultations anyway," Stewart said. "They were just a bunch of pictures on the wall. You didn't really get any questions answered nothing that was important. It was essentially a promotional tour of the new pipeline."
The 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline has been in place since the early 1950s. For more on the project, go to www.transmountain.com.
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