Demand for the Trans Mountain pipeline continues to be strong and the current capacity is insufficient to meet the needs of shippers, according to the latest figures for the system released today.

Shipper nominations for the Trans Mountain Pipeline system were apportioned (reduced) by an average of 44 per cent for the month April, meaning that shippers will only be able to deliver 56 per cent of nominated volumes. The system was oversubscribed by 32 per cent in March and February of this year, and oversubscribed by 35 per cent in January 2018.

The pipeline has been operating at its maximum capacity each month for many years, despite swings in oil prices.

The National Energy Board’s annual review of operations for federally-regulated pipelines states that Trans Mountain has had significant apportionment over the past several years, indicating that pipeline capacity has been inadequate to meet shipper demand.

In fact, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project came about in response to requests from shippers to help them reach new and growing markets by expanding the capacity of North America’s only pipeline with access to the West Coast.

The Project will provide additional transportation capacity for light and heavy crude oil and refined products from Alberta to markets in the Pacific Rim including British Columbia, Washington State, California and Asia. 

The limited capacity of the system today prohibits shippers from establishing reliable access to trade consistently with these markets. Thirteen shippers have made significant 15 and 20-year commitments of 707,500 barrels per day or roughly 80 percent of the capacity on the expanded pipeline, with the other 20 per cent reserved for spot volumes, as required by the National Energy Board.

Currently various crude oils and refined product types are transported in the pipeline and the different material types are segregated or ‘batched’. Our shippers secure capacity on the pipeline to ship the material type of their choosing.

Trans Mountain expects the majority of the expansion capacity will be for export from Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, BC. The provision of enhanced access to growing Pacific Rim markets will provide a critical alternative market for Canadian crude oil shippers. The capacity offered by the expansion will also be used by shippers to maximize supply of crude and refined products into local BC and Washington State markets. 

You can learn more about the material types we transport here and our current product destination here.