CER issues reasons for approving revised Trans Mountain pipeline variance application

The Commission initially denied the Trans Mountain application due to concerns about material quality, inability to conduct in-line inspections, pipeline integrity and environmental protection.

Once complete, the Trans Mountain pipeline will increase capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 b/d to the Burnaby, B.C. terminal. Trans Mountain photo.

This article was published by the Canada Energy Regulator on Jan. 31, 2024.

Today, the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator issued its reasons for approving Trans Mountain’s variance application for the Mountain 3 horizontal directional drill (HDD) crossing, a 2.3-kilometre section between Hope Station and the Burnaby Tank Terminal. The Commission issued its decision with conditions on January 12, 2024 [Filing C28265].

Based on Trans Mountain’s new in-line inspection (ILI) commitments and demonstration of effective quality management processes in relation to the materials Trans Mountain purchased to build the HDD crossing, the Commission found that approving the December application with four conditions is in the public interest. The decision allows Trans Mountain to install a 30-inch diameter pipe instead of the previously planned 36-inch diameter pipe for the 2.3-kilometre HDD section of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP).

Trans Mountain has committed to installing permanent trap facilities on the north and south ends of the Mountain 3 HDD before the TMEP in-service date. The proposed trap facilities will enable full ILI capability for the pipeline section between Hope Station and Burnaby Tank Terminal. Condition 2 requires Trans Mountain to confirm that this commitment has been fulfilled.

The Commission also determined that the additional information provided in the December variance application about material quality, quality management, and testing aligns with the Quality Management Plan standards for the entire TMEP. The Commission requires Trans Mountain to file a letter confirming that chemical and mechanical pipe testing has been completed and that materials conform to TMEP specifications. The Commission is satisfied that with this approach, Trans Mountain can ensure the material quality for the variance will be equivalent to the rest of the TMEP.

On January 29, 2024, Trans Mountain reported technical construction challenges during pipeline pullback activities for the Mountain 3 HDD. The CER has inspection officers and IAMC Indigenous monitors currently on site as part of standard compliance verification activities. No safety or environmental concerns have been noted, and we will continue to monitor the situation.

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