Canada’s National Energy Board has given Kinder Morgan the go-ahead to start construction work on a tunnel entrance in British Columbia’s Burnaby Mountain that will be part of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion. The board also approved the expanded pipeline’s route in the part where the tunnel is to be built, lifting all pre-construction conditions regarding the tunnel specifically.
Though this is a rare piece of good news for Kinder Morgan in the Trans Mountain saga, it does not mean that the pipeline construction will soon begin. The NEB has yet to approve about half of the pipeline’s route, and there are also other permits to collect and lawsuits to see the end of.
Of course, there is also the fierce government opposition to the pipeline project in British Columbia that sparked a sort of trade war with Alberta. The B.C. government pledged to fight the project on all fronts, prompting Kinder Morgan’s president to react. Earlier this month, in a letter to John Horgan, the province’s PM, Ian Anderson said the motives that B.C. has given for its opposition to the expansion project were questionable, adding that new rules for oil shipments proposed by the government last week were in conflict with already completed reviews.
At the end of January, the environmental ministry of British Columbia devised new rules for oil spill preparedness and response. As part of their journey from proposal to regulation, the ministry will set up a scientific advisory panel to look into whether a diluted bitumen spill in the water could be cleaned up. While the panel pursues this matter, the ministry has proposed a ban on any increase in heavy crude shipments.
The US$5.95-billion expansion project has been approved by the federal government and PM Justin Trudeau reiterated Ottawa’s support for it. Canada’s oil producers in Alberta are struggling to get their crude to the market using costlier—and riskier—railway transport because of the looming shortage of pipeline capacity.