Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC (Trans Mountain), operated by Kinder Morgan Canada, submitted a Project Description to the National Energy Board (NEB) outlining the preliminary details of the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

The filing of the Project Description with the NEB, the federal regulator for pipelines that cross inter-provincial and international borders, signals Trans Mountain’s intent to submit a comprehensive Facilities Application to the NEB. It’s important to note that the Project Description is distinct from and does not constitute an Application under the NEB Act. The Project Description is a preliminary document that initiates some procedural steps with the federal regulatory agency.

The Project Description Document

The Project Description for the Proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project is a document that is more than 100 pages and provides an overview of the project, its future operation, consultation programs and a description of the potential environmental and socio-economic interactions and effects of the proposed project at the time of its publication.

The Project Description outlines what Trans Mountain Expansion is proposing to build but not how and where the expanded pipeline and facilities would be built.  For example, the Project Description does not contain the final proposed expansion project route that will be submitted to the NEB. 

The Proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project Description is available on the NEB website here.

As the proposed new pipeline is to be built adjacent to the existing pipeline or along existing corridors, Trans Mountain says it’s not clear that the proposed project would be a designated project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012a Regulations Designating Physical Activities.  However, in submitting the Project Description, Trans Mountain says based on the level of public interest in the proposed project, the company believes the proposed project should be a designated project and subject to the rigorous environmental review required under both the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.  The company therefore is asking the NEB to make the proposed project a designated project under those regulations.

Detailed design and engineering work along with the input and feedback gathered as part of the comprehensive engagement program will continue to refine and inform the development of the Application. The Facilities Application will include the various engineering and routing studies, Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment and engagement activities with landowners, stakeholders, communities and Aboriginal groups.  The submission of the Facilities Application will initiate the NEB’s regulatory review of the proposed project.

The proposed project will require a certificate pursuant to Section 52 of the National Energy Board Act to permit construction and operation of the expanded pipeline system in Canada. Trans Mountain expects to file its application with the NEB in late 2013.

Proposed Project Overview

With 60 years of service, the Trans Mountain Pipeline delivers crude oil and refined products along the 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Strathcona County (near Edmonton), Alberta and Burnaby, BC.

In April 2012, Trans Mountain, in response to customer commitments – the shippers who use the line to transport petroleum products – announced plans to expand the pipeline.

Currently, Trans Mountain can move 300,000 barrels per day. The proposed expansion calls for a nominal capacity of up to 890,000 barrels per day. To increase the space on the pipeline system, Trans Mountain is proposing:

  • Installing about 981 kilometers of new buried pipeline (to be located adjacent to the existing pipeline within the existing right-of-way, where practical)
  • Reactivating existing maintained and deactivated pipeline segments
  • Installing 11 new pump stations, 21 storage tanks and associated facilities 
  • Expanding the existing Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby 

Community Engagement, Environmental, Economic and Engineering Studies

Since announcing the proposed expansion in 2012, Trans Mountain has been conducting an extensive engagement program with Aboriginal groups, landowners and communities along the pipeline corridor and marine corridor. The focus of the engagement is to address questions and concerns and gather feedback. This engagement has been taking place along with an Environmental and Socio-Economic assessment of the project and detailed engineering studies. Trans Mountain is also working with various federal, provincial and municipal authorities to carry out additional reviews, studies and assessments for the proposed project.