Trans Mountain Expansion Project gives oil producers an exceptional opportunity to cultivate new customers for Canada’s top export product.

Thirteen shippers have committed to long-term contracts to move their products through an expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline that will have the capacity to transport 890,000 barrels per day compared to 300,000 at present. About 50 oil products ranging from crude to refined oil and diluted bitumen ship in batches through the existing pipeline — the only operation of its kind in North America.

One of the anchor (or primary) shippers or the Project, Cenovus Energy, confirms that marketing efforts will ramp up.

“Due to current pipeline capacity restrictions to coastal ports, the majority of Canadian oil exports to the US go to the Midwest where historically they have been sold at a discount to world prices,” says Claus Thornberg, Cenovus Vice-President, Transportation.

“That’s why the Trans Mountain Expansion is so important to the Canadian oil industry and to Cenovus. As an anchor shipper on the pipeline, we would have much greater flexibility to access additional markets, including California, the US West Coast and Asia — where demand for heavy oil is strong and pricing is likely to be higher over the long term.”

Through Cenovus’s current capacity of 11,500 barrels per day on the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, the company has developed limited access to additional markets.

 “Because Cenovus currently does not have access to move large volumes of oil to Canada’s West Coast due to a lack of pipeline capacity, we have not significantly pursued transportation options and customers overseas at this point,” Thornberg says.

“We would pursue that to a greater degree once the Trans Mountain Expansion became closer to operational. With the world’s third-largest oil resource, among the strictest and most transparent regulations of any oil-producing country, and now some of the globe’s toughest carbon regulations, Canada has the opportunity to become a preferred supplier of responsibly produced oil to the world.”

Thornberg said that although construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion would be “a major step forward “in helping Canada find the best markets for its oil exports, it is only part of the solution.

“We still need additional pipeline capacity to reach deep-water ports in Canada and the US where we can access large tankers capable of carrying significant volumes of Canadian oil to markets around the globe,” Thornberg said.

“Preventing pipelines from being built in Canada will not reduce global oil demand but it will prevent Canadians from receiving the benefits of supplying oil to fill that growing demand. And it will mean customers around the world won’t have access to Canadian oil that is produced with stringent safety and environmental laws — including those that address climate change — and a rigorous regulatory system.”