Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion through the Lower Mainland
August 24th, 2012
Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (Published: August 24, 2012)
Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based company, is planning a $5 billion expansion to twin its Trans Mountain Pipeline which runs from the Alberta tar sands to its Westridge terminal in Burnaby.
This project is often confused with the Enbridge Northern Gateway project which is proposed for northern BC. The Trans Mountain Pipeline currently has 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, diesel and gas come down the line through the prairies, through Jasper National Park, over the Rocky Mountains, though Hope, Chilliwack, Surrey, and Coquitlam to Burnaby. A total of 2,200 land owners have property along the route.
Currently the fuel is exported using 80 oil tankers each year routed through Burrard Inlet.
The proposed expansion will:
- more than double the amount of fuel coming through the line to 750,000 bpd; and
- more than quadruple the number of tankers to 360 per year to move the oil.
In September 2012, Kinder Morgan will begin a public consultation with local communities and stakeholders along the proposed route and marine corridor. This consultation is expected to last up to 24 months.
It is important for property owners and community residents to be as informed as possible about this proposed expansion.
For the expansion to go ahead, Kinder Morgan requires the approval of the National Energy Board, the federal approving body. The company plans to apply for approval in 2013.
What will the expansion include?
- Expanding the pipeline to a dual line operation along the 1,150 kilometers of pipeline by 2017.
- Adding 890 kilometers of new pipeline.
- Adding new pumping stations along the route.
- Adding a second berth for storage capacity.
- Expanding the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.
- Increasing the capacity between the Burnaby Terminal and the Westridge Marine Terminal.
- Dredging the Second Narrows channel to accommodate additional tankers trips. Some tankers will contain up to one million barrels of oil and will be required to pass through the Second Narrows at high tide, where there is less than two metres between the tanker hull and the ocean floor.
Who is affected?
- More than 2,200 landowners along the pipeline.
- More than 20 local governments.
- More than 82 First Nations and Aboriginal groups.
- Waterfront property owners.
What are the key concerns?
Key concerns focus on four areas:
- Consultation: the need for wide-ranging consultation with local governments, property owners, First Nations, environmental groups and other stakeholders by Kinder Morgan and the National Energy Board.
- Environment: expansion plans must undergo rigorous environmental assessments.
- Disaster planning: there must be thorough disaster plans in place at the federal, provincial and local government levels to address risks associated with a potential spill including how to respond to and address the clean-up of toxic materials and fumes, as well as health issues in Burrard Inlet or along the coastline.
- Economy: if a spill occurs, there is potential for job losses in tourism, fisheries and related industries.
Who is interested?
Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM)
Local governments at the Union of BC Municipalities September 2011 conference expressed their concerns by passing this motion:
“Therefore be it resolved that the UBCM request that the National Energy Board, Port Metro Vancouver, and all appropriate Federal Ministers ensure that any application to expand the amount of oil transported by pipeline and tanker undergo:
a) the highest degree of environmental assessment; and,
b) meaningful public consultation, including direct engagement with affected municipalities, regional authorities and BC First Nations.”
Eight local governments
In December 2011, Mayor Gregor Robertson joined with seven other south coast mayors to express concerns that a potential oil spill could have significant negative impacts on residents, the liveability of the region and health of the environment and the economy. They are asking the National Energy Board to ensure a robust process of public consultation and hearings in the Lower Mainland regarding Kinder Morgan’s future plans for pipeline expansion and increased crude oil shipments through Vancouver harbour.
City of Burnaby
On May 28, 2012, Council unanimously approved motions to advise the Federal and Provincial Ministers of the Environment that expansion of the pipeline through Burnaby is not supported given the significant risks to and impacts on Burnaby’s economic, social and environmental well-being with limited potential off-setting benefits at a local, regional or provincial level.
Burnaby Council is also asking the Federal and Provincial Ministers of Environment and the National Energy Board to conduct a thorough assessment on all aspects of potential pipeline expansion, taking into consideration the concerns and potential impacts that expansion may have for Burnaby and the broader Metro Vancouver region.
Burnaby Council also advised Premier Christy Clark to undertake a broad public review of the risks and benefits of establishing new crude oil export ports on the coast of BC and to establish a provincial strategy and position on the appropriate type, scale, nature, location and role of oil export facilities to be developed in the province.
City of North Vancouver
Mayor Darrell Mussatto has asked Kinder Morgan to agree to an independent audit of spill response times on both land and water.
District of West Vancouver
On July 23, 2012, in keeping with the District’s Shoreline Protection Plan, Council approved motions that Kinder Morgan be obligated to demonstrate mitigating measures in place for any oil spill that would reach West Vancouver shores or marine life, and indemnify West Vancouver for the amount equal to the projected cleanup of a worst case oil spill, should the National Energy Board approve this strategy.
Council also asked West Vancouver’s MP and MLAs to ensure a provincial strategy is developed before any oil exportation operation of this magnitude is proposed for export. The Council also asked the Mayor to write to the Prime Minister, the Premier, the Federal and Provincial Ministers of the Environment, the National Energy Board, and the President of Kinder Morgan expressing West Vancouver’s opposition to any increase in oil tanker traffic through the Port of Vancouver.
Vancouver Park Board
On April 30, 2012, the Vancouver Park Board passed a motion that it is strongly opposed to any expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
The Park Board notes that it has invested and continues to invest in projects to restore the natural environment around out waterways including the creation of a salt water marsh at New Brighton Park and restoring Jericho Wharf, and that the city waterways are an integral component of Vancouver’s recreational lifestyle.
Vancouver is branding itself as the greenest city in the world, and becoming the main tanker route for crude oil bound for China, does not fit with this image.
City of Vancouver
In February 2012, Council passed a motion to send a letter to Kinder Morgan requesting the company consult with the City of Vancouver about any plans and any application it makes to the National Energy Board. Council also reiterated support for the 2011 UBCM motion about the importance of public consultation, including direct engagement with affected municipalities, regional authorities and First Nations.
In May 2012, Council passed a motion expressing the City of Vancouver’s strenuous opposition to any increase in oil tanker traffic, or measures that lead to increased oil tanker traffic, as it poses an unacceptable and unmitigated risk to Vancouver’s economy and environment.”
In July 2012, Council passed a motion to write to the BC government requesting the province retain its right to conduct a provincial environmental assessment regarding the Kinder Morgan pipeline and oil export expansion project.
On June 19, 2012, the Islands Trust voted to oppose in principle oil pipeline projects that will expand oil export by barge and tanker from Canada’s West Coast, because the proposed expansion poses an unacceptable risk to local quality of life.
The Islands Trust Council is also writing to the federal Minister of Natural Resources to support the phasing out of crude oil export from Canada’s West Coast by tanker and barge as part of a national energy strategy. The letter will request that the provincial and federal governments consider developing a low-carbon energy strategy that strengthens both Canada’s environment and economy.
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation
On July 7, 2012, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation demonstrated its opposition to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker traffic by adding its name to the Yinka Dene Alliance’s Save the Fraser Declaration. The Declaration seeks to ban tar sands pipelines through First Nations traditional territories and oil tankers in the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon on the north and south coasts of BC. The Declaration has been signed by more than 100 First Nations, forming an unbroken chain from the US border to the Arctic Ocean.
On August 1, 2012, BC Environment Minister Terry Lake summarized the government’s position on heavy oil pipelines and its concerns and listed five aggressive requirements that must be met before the government will consider any heavy oil pipeline proposal.
“Our government recognizes that British Columbians have legitimate concerns about heavy oil pipelines in our province, “said Minister Lake. The five requirements are:
- Successful completion of the environmental review process.
- World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for BC’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments.
- World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines.
- Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project.
- BC receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.
The Minister also released a technical analysis, Requirements for British Columbia to Consider Support for Heavy Oil Pipelines.
BC Chamber of Commerce
BC Chamber of Commerce President John Winter said he’s seen nothing yet to justify opposing Kinder Morgan’s plan for expanded oil exports. “I see enhanced benefits to this project which will lead to economic activity. It will help to continue to enable all of us to heat our homes and drive our cars and get our products to market. Without the proposed pipeline expansion, how will we continue to do this?”
In June 2012, Chevron Canada Ltd., which has operated a refinery in Burnaby since 1935, applied to the National Energy Board for priority access to the pipeline to guarantee it has enough oil to supply its refinery.
There have been problems receiving oil from Kinder Morgan and Chevron has had times when it received only 30 – 40% of what it requested.
Chevron, which employs 400 staff and contractors at the Burnaby refinery, states that it is committed to the long-term operation of the refinery, but that commitment is dependent on a reliable source of crude oil.
“The availability of that stock is being threatened by the apportionment of capacity nominated on the Kinder Morgan-owned Trans Mountain Pipeline due to historically high volume requests from shippers located outside of BC,” reports Chevron.
Kinder Morgan’s response
Kinder Morgan Canada has begun an extensive consultation on all aspects of the proposed expansion project and plans to talk with landowners, Aboriginal groups, communities and stakeholders.
“We are still early in the engagement process of the project, says Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan. Anderson explains that at Kinder Morgan, “we value and respect our open relationships with many communities and organizations interested in our business. We are committed to an inclusive, extensive and thorough engagement with all stakeholders on all aspects of the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project.”
Kinder Morgan’s objective is to treat each landowner fairly and equitably. For those who may be directly affected by the proposed expansion project, Kinder Morgan’s goal is “to ensure we identify and address landowners’ concerns, answer questions and mitigate any potential impacts.”
Helping property owners understand what’s at stake
When Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart couldn’t get his hands on a map of the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion route, he commissioned one (it cost a few hundred dollars) to help his constituents understand what’s at stake if the National Energy Board gives the green light to the project.
“I’ve had thousands of phone calls from concerned residents and they needed this information,” explains Stewart.
While the exact route of the proposed expansion is still not known, it will likely stay within the existing right-of-way, which Kinder Morgan owns. What concerns Stewart, is that this right-of-way may be expanded.
“Kinder Morgan wants to expand the general corridor to 150 metes (492 ft) wide and within that, its current 9 metre (30 ft) right-of-way to an 18 metre (60 ft) right-of way. This could significantly affect properties along the route,” says Stewart, who describes the right-of-way as a “potential expropriation zone.”
The pipeline is now routed through residential areas so it’s important for home owners and other interested community members to get as much information as possible and to attend consultation sessions.
The need for property owners to inform themselves is echoed by disaster planner Guy Robertson, owner of Robertson Consulting, who also suggests residential and commercial property owners along the proposed line expansion and owners of waterfront property consult their insurance companies to determine coverage options. “Property owners also need to manage their risk so they know exactly what to do and who to contact in the event of a toxic spill,” explains Guy Robertson.
Lindsay Olson, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada reports that coverage may be provided under a comprehensive home owner’s policy, but home owners should always confirm with their insurance representative.
On May 1, 2012 Vancouver City Council passed a motion directing staff to prepare a bylaw requiring pipeline operators and oil tankers operating in Vancouver to carry enough liability insurance to indemnify the City of Vancouver and existing local industries through appropriate liability insurance to cover the cost of cleanup and loss of business as a result of a spill.