The C$30.9 billion pipeline, which will ship an extra 590,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude to Canada’s Pacific Coast, is meant to start operating in the first quarter of 2024 but is facing delays and extra costs due to a last-minute route dispute.
Trans Mountain Corp (TMC) has asked the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) to change the approved route on a 1.3-kilometre (0.8 mile) section just south of Kamloops, British Columbia, as micro-tunneling construction required on the route is not feasible technically or economically.
The proposal to instead lay the pipeline through a different area nearby is facing opposition from the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN), an indigenous group whose territory the pipeline crosses.
In a letter to the CER laying out the “worst-case” scenario, TMC said being forced to continue with building a micro-tunnel on that part of the route could delay pipeline completion until December 2024 and add an extra C$86 million in cost.
The earliest the micro-tunnel could be completed is by April, the company said.
Trans Mountain’s expansion has been dogged by years of delays and will cost more than quadruple its original budget. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government bought the pipeline in 2018 to ensure it got built.
(Reporting by Nia Williams in British Columbia, editing by Deepa Babington)