Trans Mountain is a leading member of the Salish Sea marine community with a long record of contributions to marine safety and efficiency. Captain Bikramjit Kanjilal, a Master Mariner with more than 40 years industry experience, who advises on the Project and acts as Lead for Marine Development for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, recently gave a keynote address to the 2017 Conference of the Nautical Institute of British Columbia. Here are some excerpts from his remarks.

For more than 60 years, the Trans Mountain Pipeline has been a safe and vital transportation link for refined oils (gasoline and diesel) for our everyday use. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project involves laying a second pipeline, for the most part, in the same right-of-way as the existing pipeline. The system capacity would thereby increase from its current 300,000 bbls per day to 890,000 bbls per day. Canadian producers have taken long-term space on the expanded pipeline system and at peak capacity, the Project could direct up to 630,000 bbls per day to Westridge for export, the majority of it heavy crude oil. Each month it will require up to 34 partially-loaded Aframax tankers to service this level of export. It does not change the vessel size or the product type.

Of the 157 Conditions placed by the NEB on the Project, a number of them are focused on managing the increased risk from marine transportation.

A commitment to extend tug escort through the Juan de Fuca Strait is not made on a whim; no oil spill is acceptable to Trans Mountain, especially not a large spill. That commitment led to investigating the benefits of having a tug in attendance of loaded tankers for the entire shipping route to J Buoy. This risk control also addressed concerns of Vancouver Island communities.

The NEB requires Trans Mountain to develop a tug matrix that would determine what should be the appropriate tug size to safely handle a disabled laden Aframax tanker under different weather conditions and to make it a requirement for arriving tankers to use such a tug during the loaded passage through the Juan de Fuca Strait. The matrix is being developed by a technical committee led by Robert Allan Limited and this will become part of the future tanker acceptance standards post expansion. Ships calling at Westridge must agree to comply with the matrix as a pre-condition to loading cargo. At this time, Trans Mountain is working with its shippers and interested tug operators to have suitable tugs available by the time the Project comes in service.

Trans Mountain is committing to an investment of $150 million towards oil spill response enhancement to be implemented by Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC). In many ways, this is a transformative opportunity not only for WCMRC but also for certain communities on Vancouver Island where new bases will be established and where most of the 115 new WCMRC jobs will be. The enhanced oil spill response regime goes far above and beyond the requirements of the Canada Shipping Act, basically doubling the response capacity and halving the response time.

Shipping is the unrecognized facilitator of economies locally and globally; it impacts the lives of millions. However, there are few opportunities where industry can connect with its ultimate customer, the people who rely on shipping to provide them the goods they use every day, safely and efficiently. That raises the potential risk of each losing touch with the other. In my opinion it is time for industry to expand and broaden the audience. It will take effort, but increasing interaction with our ultimate customers will be mutually beneficial in the long run.

A few parting thoughts. Risk is inherent to all human endeavour. It is not in humans to shy away from risk, but rather to assess risk safely and responsibly. Marine risks associated with the Trans Mountain Expansion Project are low and will be well managed. In the Salish Sea, all the elements of a world-leading marine safety system are here, and the record shows the system works. However, we must guard against complacency and exercise leadership and shared learning towards continually improving risk controls.