Over the past couple of months, during the National Energy Board’s (NEB) Reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, we have been asked questions about the need for the Project and the commitments that exist from our shippers.

The Expansion Project came about in response to requests from oil shippers to help them reach new markets by expanding the capacity of the Trans Mountain Pipeline – North America’s only pipeline with access to the West Coast.

Thirteen shippers made significant 15- and 20-year commitments of 707,500 barrels per day or roughly 80 per cent of the capacity on the expanded pipeline, with the other 20 per cent reserved for spot volumes as required by the NEB.

We expect the majority of the expansion capacity will be for export off the dock at our Westridge Marine Terminal. The primary purpose of the Project is to provide additional transportation capacity for crude oil from Alberta to markets in the Pacific Rim including BC, Washington State, California and Asia. The provision of enhanced access to growing Pacific Rim markets will provide a critical alternative market to Canadian crude oil shippers. The actual destinations our customers will ship to – percentages and volumes – will vary depending on market conditions.

The number of tankers calling at Westridge varies year to year based upon shippers’ desire to serve different markets. Shippers secure capacity on the pipeline to ship the material type of their choosing to the destination of their choosing.

Today, the majority of tankers leaving Westridge Marine Terminal are going to the US. The limited capacity of the system today prohibits shippers from establishing reliable access to trade consistently with markets in the Pacific Rim. Therefore, today’s numbers or past numbers are used to describe our current operations, and aren’t an indication of future use.

Following the expansion, the existing pipeline will carry refined products, synthetic crude oils and light crude oils with the capability for heavy crude oils. The new pipeline will carry heavier oils with the capability for transporting light crude oils. Ultimately, our pipeline exists to serve our customers and the market decides what we transport. 

For the latest capacity information for the Trans Mountain Pipeline System, click here.