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NEB Clears Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipe For Construction

The green light has been flashed for construction to start on schedule in September at an environmental sore spot in Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.'s growth-enabling pipeline project for oilsands production and industrial natural gas consumption.

The National Energy Board (NEB) ruled all conditions have been met for work to begin at the oil export dock on the Pacific coast end of the C$7.4 billion ($5.8 billion) tripling of capacity on Trans Mountain Pipeline to British Columbia (BC) from Alberta.

Tanker loading potential would grow seven-fold at Westridge Marine Terminal, in the Vancouver satellite city of Burnaby, to 408 vessels per year that could fill up with 630,000 b/d of increased Trans Mountain shipments.

Volumes would vary "depending on market demand," predicted the plan's approval by the Canadian sea lane traffic control regime known as TERMPOL, short for Technical Review Process of Marine Terminal Systems and Transshipment Sites.

The TERMPOL approval said its review "did not identify regulatory concerns for the tankers, tanker operations, the proposed route, navigability, other waterway users and the marine terminal operations associated with tankers supporting the project."

The approval predicted, "Trans Mountain commitments and enhancements to the existing marine safety regime will provide for a higher level of safety for tanker operations appropriate to the increase in traffic."

Kinder Morgan's plan identifies the Westridge dock as the starting point for construction on the 590,000 b/d in capacity additions to the 987 kilometer (592 mile) Trans Mountain line from an oilsands delivery hub at the Alberta capital of Edmonton. Total deliveries are scheduled to rise as of December 2019 to 890,000 b/d from the current 300,000 b/d.

The tanker terminal stands out as a flash point for environmental and aboriginal protests. As the NEB approved the construction program, industry opponents held a training camp for floating demonstrations in boats and kayaks at the worksite.

Also at the same time Canada's Federal Court of Appeal granted late intervener status to BC's month-old New Democratic Party government in an omnibus case of 16 protest lawsuits against Trans Mountain expansion’s approvals by the NEB, the federal cabinet and BC's former Liberal administration. The NDP's spring election platform pledged a fight against the pipeline project. The protest days in court are scheduled for mid-October.

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