Trans Mountain Corp has restarted construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the company said on Wednesday, a year after the project stalled because of regulatory delays.
The expanded pipeline will nearly triple the flow of crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the British Columbia coast but is fiercely opposed by environmental and some indigenous groups.
Last year a Canadian court overturned the federal government’s 2016 approval of the project on the grounds it had failed to adequately consult indigenous groups. That prompted Justin Trudeau’s government to buy the pipeline to ensure the expansion is completed.
After a new regulatory review Trudeau’s government reapproved the pipeline in June, to the relief of Canada’s oil industry.
Work has restarted at the Burnaby storage terminal where the pipeline terminates, and the Westridge marine terminal, where crude is loaded onto tankers, Trans Mountain said in a statement.
The company has also issued notices to some construction contractors to mobilize equipment and crews, said Chief Executive Ian Anderson, adding that work will soon begin in communities along the pipeline’s right-of-way in Alberta between Edmonton and Edson.
“Clearly this project has been subjected to numerous delays and setbacks over the past several years. With today’s announcement on the commencement of construction, I firmly believe that we are finally able to start delivering the significant national and regional benefits we have always committed to,” Anderson said.
Trans Mountain expects to receive all outstanding regulatory approvals and permits in remaining construction areas over the coming months and said if those approvals go to plan the project will be in service by mid-2022.
Canada is the world’s fourth-largest crude producer but the oil industry has struggled for years to get new export pipelines built, leading to deep discounts on crude stranded in Alberta and an exodus of foreign investors from the oil sands.
The government of Alberta on Tuesday extended production curtailments imposed to help relieve congestion on export pipelines.