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Douglas Channel, the proposed shipping route for oil tanker ships in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, is pictured in an aerial view just south of Kitimat, B.C., on Tuesday January 10, 2012.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

The Trans Mountain expansion and Northern Gateway pipeline projects are at different stages in the regulatory process, involve different players and have different price tags. But they also have much in common, including the shared purpose of getting land-locked Alberta oil to Asian markets. Here is how the two stack up:

PROPONENTS

Trans Mountain expansion:

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Trans Mountain Pipeline, a Calgary-based company owned by Kinder Morgan of Houston, Tex.

Northern Gateway:

Enbridge, based in Calgary.

CAPACITY

Trans Mountain expansion:

It would carry 890,000 barrels per day, nearly triple the 300,000-barrel-per-day capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, which began operating in 1953.

Northern Gateway:

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The westbound pipeline would carry up to 525,000 barrels per day. Eastbound pipeline would carry 193,000 barrels per day of condensate, which is used to thin oil so that it can be moved by pipeline.

COMPONENTS

Trans Mountain expansion:

The 994-kilometre pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby would "twin" the existing pipeline and take the same route for most of the way. There would be twelve new pump stations and 20 new tanks at various points along the route. There would be three new berths at Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C., capable of handling Aframax-size tankers (An Aframax is a mid-sized oil tanker with an average capacity of 750,000 barrels; average length 245 metres). The existing dock at Westridge, capable of loading one Aframax-size vessel, would be demolished after the three new berths are in operation.

Northern Gateway:

It would involve a 1,177-kilometre twinned pipeline from Northern Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., and a marine terminal at Kitimat that would include two berths and 19 tanks.

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COST

Trans Mountain expansion: $5.5-billion

Northern Gateway: $7.9-billion

CONTROVERSY

Trans Mountain expansion:

Most opposition is focused on tanker traffic – which would increase from a current five tankers per month up to a potential 34 – through Burrard Inlet past Stanley Park. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says oil tankers are incompatible with Vancouver's greenest city mandate. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, whose traditional territory surrounds Burrard Inlet, is against the project, as are other native and environmental groups.

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Northern Gateway:

The controversy has focused on both the land and marine portions of the project. In B.C., opposition has crystallized around tanker traffic and the potential for oil spills in and around Douglas Channel and Haida Gwaii. Native groups have vowed an unbreakable wall of opposition.

CUSTOMERS

Trans Mountain expansion:

The company has binding agreements with 13 shippers – including Husky Energy, BP Canada and Canadian Natural Resources – that have signed on for capacity in the new system if it is built. Asia is the most likely end market.

Northern Gateway:

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Enbridge is after new markets in the Pacific Rim that would pay more than the 'discounted' prices at which oil is being sold to U.S. markets.

CONTEXT

Trans Mountain expansion:

The project may have determined an election in B.C. When NDP Leader Adrian Dix announced his opposition to the project in April of 2013, he did so in the middle of a provincial election campaign. That unexpected announcement – promptly dubbed the Kinder Surprise – allowed Liberal opponent Christy Clark to capitalize on the 'jobs and economy' theme and craft a surprise comeback victory in May.

Northern Gateway:

For Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, it is an essential project that will open foreign markets to Canadian resources. In an open letter last January, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver accused "environmental and other radical groups" of using foreign funding to hijack Canada's regulatory system. Currently, Mr. Oliver is taking a less strident tone and Northern Gateway could trigger a round of court actions over aboriginal engagement.

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REGULATORY

Trans Mountain expansion:

An application from the company was first submitted to the National Energy Board on Dec. 16. The NEB will conduct a review, including public hearings.

Northern Gateway:

Enbridge first contemplated shipping oil west in 1998 and launched a formal project in 2004. A joint review panel under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency was established in 2010. On December 19, the panel recommended approval of Northern Gateway, with 209 conditions. The decision now rests with the Minister of Natural Resources and the Governor in Council, which have 180 days – about six months – to make a decision.

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