Kinder Morgan still optimistic about pipeline expansion

"Nobody spends more money on safety and integrity than Kinder Morgan," company spokesperson Dave Fowles

The new Liberal government in Ottawa has extended the cabinet review period by four months and the B.C. government has said it can’t support the project, but Kinder Morgan still hopes to have an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline in service as of 2019, according to company spokesperson Dave Fowles.

Speaking during a community-to-community forum held Jan. 29, at Dutch Lake Community Centre, Fowles said Kinder Morgan has the longest and safest record for pipeline operation in North America.

“Nobody spends more money on safety and integrity than Kinder Morgan,” he said.

There is great demand for the service, he said.

Before announcing in 2012 that it intended to nearly triple the Trans Mountain pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels per day, Kinder Morgan got 15 to 20 agreements with shippers.

The project would involve installing 980 km of new 36” or 48” pipe between Edmonton and Burnaby.

About 73 per cent would follow the existing pipeline right-of-way.

Another 16 per cent would be along other linear infrastructure, such as highways and fibre-optic.

Only 11 per cent would involve new right-of-way.

Total capital cost of the project is put at $5.4 billion.

Fowles said he was proud of how Kinder Morgan has addressed First Nations’ concerns.

The company has consulted with 133 Aboriginal communities and groups, he said.

He said that the information from First Nations helps pipeline planning.

“It comes from the people who are closest to the land,” he said.

District of Barriere councillor Pat Paula asked what would happen if there was not enough land available for doubling.

Fowles replied that the existing corridor is only 18 m wide but when the original pipe was put down 60 years ago it was laid along one side of the corridor, leaving room for a second pipe.

Whether more land would be needed for a work area would depend on the site, he said.

Mel Rothenburger, Thompson-Nicola Regional District director for Area P (Rivers and the Peaks), asked if Fowles’ comparison of the pipeline’s capacity with 440 railcars per day was realistic.

The Kinder Morgan spokesperson said that pipelines offer the safest and most economical method of transporting petroleum products.

He said that his understanding was that most of the rail cars coming this way are because of lack of pipeline capacity.

However, most rail cars carrying petroleum products are heading south from Alberta, not west.

Fowles noted that 440 rail cars would work out to about six trains per day.

Thompson Headwaters (Area B) director Willow MacDonald asked about how Kinder Morgan planned to satisfy the concerns raised by the government of this province.

The Kinder Morgan spokesperson said the B.C. government has set five conditions before it can support the pipeline expansion.

He said he was confident that the company could work through any concerns expressed.

The community-to-community forum was a meeting involving District of Clearwater, District of Barriere, Simpcw First Nation, plus Thompson-Nicola Regional District directors, board and staff.

Several have been held in the North Thompson Valley, with sponsorship from Union of BC Municipalities.