The Trans Mountain pipeline is set to restart Sunday, following a three-week shutdown to ensure the record-breaking rainfall, devastating floods and landslides did not damage the pipeline that traverses British Columbia.
The pipeline owned by the Canadian government said it completed detailed investigations into the integrity of the 1,150-kilometre pipeline, which carries up to 300,000 barrels a day of crude oil and refined products from Alberta to a terminal in Vancouver’s eastern suburb of Burnaby.
Trans Mountain, the only pipeline in North America that carries both oil and refined products, said in a statement posted to its website that throughout the shutdown, the pipeline was safe and there was no indication of any spills or “serious damage to the pipe.”
The pipeline will restart on Sunday before dusk, after final repair work and assessments are approved by the Canada Energy Regulator, the company said.
The federal Crown corporation’s statement noted that restarting the pipeline after the longest pause in its history has required a “significant, sustained effort” to re-establish access after floods and landslides damaged roads and changed river flows on Nov. 14.
The restart was originally slated for a week ago, but repairs were interrupted at some sites last weekend when the second of three successive rainstorms touched down on B.C.’s water-logged southern coast.
In the coming weeks, Trans Mountain said, it will be “armouring” riverbanks and adding ground cover or relocating sections of the pipeline.
In part due to the pipeline shutting down, the B.C. government has asked residents to limit their fuel purchases to 30 litres per visit to a gas station until Dec. 14.
A 2019 report from the British Columbia Utilities Commission into gasoline and diesel prices on Canada’s West Coast pointed out that the infrastructure for importing refined products “has largely developed around the capacity of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”
Trans Mountain is a key oil export route, and nearly two-thirds of its volumes in the first half of 2021 were light oil deliveries bound for U.S. refineries, said IHS Market vice-president Kevin Birn, citing Canada Energy Regulator data.
Trans Mountain is twinning the pipeline to increase its capacity to about 890,000 barrels a day, but sections of that expansion project were also put on hold after the storm, with crews unable to reach construction sites.
On Saturday, the B.C. government said crews continue to repair major highways into the Lower Mainland despite falling snow.
As of Friday, about 10,505 evacuees had registered for emergency aid at the 10 reception centres across the province, with about a third of them needing money to stay at nearby hotels and slightly more people (3,726) saying they were being billeted by family or friends.
With reports from The Canadian Press and Reuters
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