A year after construction was allowed to restart on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, its chief executive says the project is on budget and on schedule for completion by the end of 2022.
The project is advancing as expected despite challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, a global slump in demand for fuel, a $5.2-billion rise in its estimated cost to $12.6 billion in February and ongoing protests by opponents, said CEO Ian Anderson in an interview.
The expansion project is designed to triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Edmonton and a shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C., to about 890,000 barrels per day of products including diluted bitumen, lighter crudes and refined fuels such as gasoline.
“We’ve got some major elements of the project to still do, but they’re all on track and there’s no critical path items I’m worried about at this point,” said Anderson. “We’re making great progress.”
Opponents, however, remain resolute.
“Given the economic circumstances in the country vis-a-vis COVID and the collapsing pricing in oil and gas, there’s absolutely no way that the Trans Mountain pipeline project is anywhere near viable or feasible,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
He said he thinks the federal government, which bought the pipeline and its expansion project for $4.5 billion in 2018, is waiting for the expansion to “collapse under its own weight of economic uncertainties.”
More opposition on the ground will swell as construction moves farther into the B.C. Interior, Phillip said, adding he expects “Burnaby Mountain-style” protests like those that resulted in more than 100 people being arrested after they camped out in a conservation area in 2014 to block pipeline crews.
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