Kinder Morgan ups expansion plans

Kinder Morgan’s expansion plans are getting bigger.

The company announced Jan. 10 it plans to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline to carry 890,000 barrels per day, up from the 750,000 barrels per day (BPD) expansion it had initially proposed.

The original Trans Mountain line, now almost 60 years old, can carry up to 300,000 BPD.

Greg Toth, project manager for the expansion, said the new, higher volume is similar to what the company had originally envisioned when it first announced its expansion plans.

When a few shippers dropped off the project, Kinder Morgan reduced the scope of the expansion to 750,000 BPD.

Since then, Toth said the company has had “continual interest” from other Canadian oil producers and marketers, which prompted it to open the project back up to new shippers.

“It really is representative of the growing demand for outlets for Western Canada sedimentary basin crews and the growing production from the oil sands, and the need to access alternative markets,” he said.

However, Toth said he doesn’t think the project is benefitting from the uncertainty surrounding other pipeline projects, such as Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway line.

“We really don’t think there’s a linkage there. Our project stands alone in that we already had the commercial support to proceed with the project as it was,” he said.

“It just really represents additional support for our proposed expansion.”

To accommodate the extra barrels, the size of the new pipeline would increase from 30 to 36 inches.

The added capacity would increase the cost of the project to $5.4 billion, an extra $1.3 billion over previous estimates.

Toth said the expanded pipe won’t affect plans for the Kamloops area.

“We needed a new pump station at Kamloops, at our terminal at the top off the hill. We needed two pump stations north of Kamloops at Black Pines, and those are still part of the scope,” he said.

The larger pipe doesn’t require a larger right-of-way, and construction techniques don’t change with a six-inch increase, Toth said.

The company still plans to file an application for review with the National Energy Board late this year.

It estimates regulatory review will take about two years, with construction beginning in 2016.


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