Temporary road under construction at the Trans Mountain terminal in Burnaby to bring in components for 14 additional storage tanks. (Trans Mountain)

Trans Mountain pipeline work proceeds with COVID-19 restrictions

25 km of pipe laid in Alberta, Burnaby tank farm expanding

With half of the 50-km Edmonton-area portion of the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning completed, work is continuing to add 14 storage tanks to its Burnaby terminal and expand the Westridge marine terminal for export of Alberta oil sands crude.

Worksite restrictions for COVID-19 on the project now include temperature testing people entering the sites, staggering work shifts to minimize the number of workers on site, and restricting vehicle transport for physical distance, the now-federally owned Trans Mountain said in a project update this week.

Much of the pipeline twinning work from Alberta to the B.C. border has been completed over the past decade, and nearly 25 km of twin pipe has been laid in the Edmonton area. At the west end of the 67-year-old oil and fuel transportation system, piledriving and construction of the shipping terminal expansion into Burrard Inlet are ongoing.

The expansion project includes a total of 19 more storage tanks, with four at Edmonton one at Sumas, where a branch line has served Washington refineries since 1954.

The marine terminal expansion includes a new dock complex with three tanker berths, to allow the loading of three Aframax-size tankers at once. The expansion includes a utility dock to moor tugboats, boom boats and emergency response vessels, added delivery pipelines and an extension of the land along the shoreline to accommodate new equipment.

The foreshore expansion is being constructed of steel retaining walls, which have been filled with aggregate material and soil to establish the foundation.

At the Burnaby terminal, a temporary road is under construction and the site is being prepared for 14 new storage tanks. The plan includes a tunnel through Burnaby Mountain from the tank farm to the Westridge terminal, big enough to contain three 30-inch delivery pipes to load vessels.

With the only pipeline link between Alberta, B.C. and Washington state oversubscribed and increasing shipments by rail before the current pandemic slowdown and turmoil in the world oil market, the expansion pipe is planned to carry heavy oil for export. The existing line will carry refined fuels, light crude and synthetic crude produced from bitumen at upgraders the Edmonton region.

RELATED: Lack of pipelines costing Canada billions, study finds

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The Justin Trudeau government took over the pipeline in 2018 after Kinder Morgan Canada set a deadline to walk away from the expansion project. The $4.5 billion purchase price came with an estimate of $7.4 billion to complete the expansion, an estimate later raised to $12.6 billion with a completion date pushed to 2022 amid protests and court challenges.

A 2018 study estimated Canada was losing nearly $16 billion in revenue that year due to pipeline bottlenecks that effectively made the U.S. the only customer for new capacity.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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