The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion plans to resume a year after an appellate court verdict required a second project review and approval by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) and federal cabinet.
President Ian Anderson on Wednesday set a target completion date for mid-2022 as the federal government-owned pipeline operator sent notices to contractors for the C$9 billion ($6.8 billion) project to proceed. The NEB gave permission to resume work earlier this month, and construction is beginning at the line’s Burnaby outlet in Vancouver Harbor, the sole spot where all permits have been granted.
West coast opponents of the pipeline expansion are expected to picket in force as activity starts, supplying Canada’s top natural gas user, Alberta thermal oilsands production.
“Specific start dates in the remaining construction areas are subject to final regulatory approvals and permits,” Trans Mountain officials said.
Regulatory proceedings continue on the remaining planned additions, which could boost capacity to 890,000 b/d on the 1,147-kilometer (688-mile) line that spans Alberta and British Columbia.
The NEB is reviewing spill and fire prevention measures at the pipeline’s Edmonton inlet. A second round of detailed route approval proceedings is underway with owners of all 3,200 private, commercial, municipal and indigenous land parcels the pipeline would cross.
Pipeline officials plans employ 4,200 construction workers at various spots along the route by 4Q2019.
Alberta’s Conservative Premier Jason Kenney called the delayed construction start no occasion to celebrate but, instead, a reason to repeal the “no more pipelines” environmental legislation passed by the Liberal federal government in June.
“The start of construction is an important milestone, but it should have never taken this long,” Kenney said. The pipeline “has been mired in delays and has been through countless months of consultation and a lengthy and rigorous review process. It has been canceled twice. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”