Trans Mountain pipeline construction milestone celebrated in Alberta

FILE Premier Rachel Notley joined Enoch Cree Nation the federal government and Trans Mountain officials for a special blessing ceremony near the site that will store pipe needed to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project

FILE Premier Rachel Notley joined Enoch Cree Nation the federal government and Trans Mountain officials for a special blessing ceremony near the site that will store pipe needed to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project

The announcement of construction work - not just preparatory work - was meant to soothe fears in Alberta over multiple years of delays for the 590,000-barrels-per-day Trans Mountain Expansion project, which will twin an existing oil pipeline to the West Coast.

Trans Mountain Corp. chief executive Ian Anderson believes construction crews will be in a position to start putting pipelines in the ground in British Columbia in the spring, as the company has authorization to proceed with additional construction work.

While preparatory work has been underway for months, the company is now - after years of delays - preparing to put its first pieces of large-diameter pipe into the ground in Alberta along the first of seven "spreads" or sections of the pipeline between Edmonton and metro Vancouver.

As of October 31, close to six million person hours have been spent on the project, the company said and more than half of the pipe needed for construction has been received.

"My prediction is by next spring, we will certainly be working in British Columbia in spreads 3 and 4 in the North Thompson", he said. "We'll likely have some work going on in Kamloops by that time as well, if not sooner".

He added the schedule does take into account possible opposition protests.

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The expansion is considered critical infrastructure for landlocked oil producers in Alberta who want to expand to Asia's energy-hungry markets. The expansion would almost triple capacity to 890,000 Bpd from Alberta's oil sands. Over 90 per cent of Canada's oil exports are now shipped to the U.S.

The Federal Court of Appeal is now reviewing an appeal by Indigenous groups of that second approval.

Federal Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O'Regan said the event and the opening of the Canadian part of Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 export pipeline last weekend make it a "good week" for Canada. This is a good day for our sector.

"Albertans can be assured their government will continue to stand up for our energy industry and get pipelines built", Savage said.

The Trans Mountain project was sold to the federal government for $4.5 billion in 2018 and has faced legal delays, including an upcoming hearing with the Federal Court of Appeal on December 16 where challenges by six Indigenous groups will be heard over whether the federal government pursued a sufficient consultation with them about the project.

O'Regan wouldn't provide any details about the government looking to sell back the pipeline.

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