Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will see increased tanker traffic for southern BC

The waters off southwest Canada and the northwest US could be getting much busier with oil tankers in coming years after Canada’s federal government on Tuesday gave its approval to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

The project will see the twinning of a pipeline from the oil sands in Alberta to a terminal at Burnaby in southern British Columbia.

Essentially the decision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration allows Houston-based Kinder Morgan, a global energy industry infrastructure company, to build a second pipeline alongside its existing one, adding 980 kilometres of pipe.

The motivation is Canada’s desire to get their product to a Pacific export site for selling to Asian markets.

NYSE-listed Kinder Morgan plans to start construction in September 2017 with a completion target of late 2019.

Green groups warn the move will lead to a sevenfold increase in oil tankers using the Salish Sea and Puget Sound, with a proportional increase in risk of environmental mishaps and catastrophes.

This deal is seen by many as the balancing act Trudeau had to pull off between appeasing conservationists and satisfying the energy industry.

At the same time as approving the Trans Mountain, Trudeau said his administration would block a plan by Calgary-based energy firm Enbridge for a so-called Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta oil sands through the Great Bear Rainforest to a terminal at Kitimat in northern BC. The route through the rain forest was a deal breaker for Trudeau.

Previously the Prime Minister has instructed a ban on all tankers from the coast of northern British Columbia.


Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.


  1. Piping the toxic, tar sands through BC is a stupid idea to begin with, because there is no equipment to clean-up a spill.

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