Two of the most common questions we get asked at Trans Mountain are: what types of oil do you transport and where are the products shipped to?

The Trans Mountain Pipeline has the distinction of being both North America’s only pipeline with access to the West Coast and that carries refined product and crude oil in batches.

On any given day, the pipeline is used to move approximately 300,000 barrels per day of different grades or varieties of petroleum. Shippers – Trans Mountain’s customers who own the products transported – secure capacity on the pipeline to ship the material type of their choosing (providing it meets the specifications set out in our tariffs), to the destination of their choosing. The actual volumes and final destinations our customers ship to varies with market conditions and their desire to serve different markets.

Demand for the Trans Mountain pipeline continues to be strong and the current capacity is insufficient to meet the needs of shippers. Average apportionment for the Trans Mountain Pipeline system was 40 per cent for 2018, higher than 2016 and 2017 combined. Apportionment describes the amount of demand shippers place on the pipeline in excess of its available capacity.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline begins in Edmonton and has terminals in BC and Washington state. Each year, the volume of product shipped to each destination varies, depending on market conditions and demand. Our 2018 product destination numbers show that 53 per cent of the product in the pipeline was shipped to Puget Sound last year to serve refineries in Anacortes, Cherry Point and Ferndale. Twenty-four per cent of the product was transported to Burnaby Terminal to serve local refining and fuel needs and for temporary storage, 21 per cent went to Westridge Marine Terminal for export by vessel and two per cent ended up at our Kamloops Terminal to be transported within BC for local use.

It’s important to note the Expansion Project came about in response to requests from oil shippers to help them reach new markets in the Pacific Rim including BC, Washington state, California and Asia. Thirteen shippers have made significant 15- and 20-year commitments that add up to roughly 80 per cent of the capacity in an expanded pipeline. 

We expect the majority of the expansion capacity will be for export from the dock at our Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, BC. Limits to the capacity of the system today prohibits shippers from establishing reliable access to trade consistently with these markets. Providing enhanced access to growing Pacific Rim markets will create a critical alternative market to Canadian crude oil shippers.