Trans Mountain offers safety assurance

Company takes a proactive approach to pipeline protection along the existing route

Dennis O’Keefe (Safety of current pipeline questioned, Letters, Sept. 25) writes that he is concerned about potential safety risks on the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline.

We can reassure readers of The Hope Standard that safety is a top priority for Kinder Morgan and all of its employees. As we’ve stated in previous communications with Mr. O’Keefe, we take a proactive approach to pipeline protection all along our existing route, including through the Hope area.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline system has been successfully operating for more than 60 years as a result of ongoing proactive maintenance and our well-established pipeline integrity and pipeline protection programs. This includes safely shipping diluted bitumen since the 1980s.

For example there are seven block valves located on the existing pipeline between the Kingsvale and Hope stations. The majority of these block valve locations were selected during the original design of the pipeline and are located at pump stations and in strategic locations, with two of the valves installed in 2013 as part of system upgrades. The valves enable us to section off portions of the pipeline to allow maintenance work and to respond effectively in the event of an emergency.

We continually reassess valve locations and system protection as part of our Integrity Management Program as indicated by the two new valves added on each side of the Coquihalla Canyon in the summer of 2013.

Safety is a primary consideration for the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project as well. The Project team is committed to an open and responsive approach to sharing information and ongoing engagement. Project plans include installation of automated block valves at locations based on results of spill modelling and formalized risk assessment, the ability to isolate the pipeline in the event of an emergency.

Mr. O’Keefe correctly notes that there is not currently a plan for additional valves to be placed in Hope, nor are there plans to increase the pipeline wall thickness or decommission the existing pipeline in Hope. However it should be noted that the current pipeline materials and their thickness (9.52 mm at the Coquihalla River crossing) are fully compliant with the Canadian Standards Association’s Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems Z662-11 standard. We can also confirm that the pipeline design and pipe wall thickness satisfy the NEB requirements for the licensed operating  pressure. To this regard, much of the Coquihalla Canyon was hydrostatically pressure tested in 2013 at pressures greater than operating pressures as part of the ongoing Integrity Management Program. Mr. O’Keefe also incorrectly states that the minimum pipeline wall thickness specified in the CSA Z662 code is ½ inch (12.7mm) as numerous factors are considered in the design of a pipeline river crossing.

Mr. O’Keefe also mentions tax revenues associated with our proposed expansion. We are proud of the economic impact our proposed project will have. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project is a $5.4 billion construction project. That is all private sector risk capital, not taxpayer dollars.

At the peak of construction, some 4,500 people will be working on the pipeline expansion. We estimate there will be more than 4,000 worker months of employment in the Hope area, and workers on the proposed project will spend more than $28 million in the local community on items such as accommodations and meals. The expansion will also create approximately 3,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs per year in B.C. and Alberta for at least 20 years of operations.

The project will generate $4.3B in tax revenues from construction and 20 years of operation, accruing to all levels of government. Local governments and reserves crossed by the project will accrue aggregate property tax increases of more than $23 million annually in B.C., more than doubling what we already contribute. In Hope, we estimate over 20 years, an expanded pipeline will pay more than $25 million in property taxes alone.

More broadly speaking, the purpose of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is to unlock access to better-paying world markets for Canadian oil. In recent years, Canada has left billions of dollars on the table selling our oil into a U.S. market where a domestic production boom is well under way. The Trans Mountain Project will enable our customers to capture an additional $45B in revenues over 20 years. This will yield at least $14.7 billion in additional taxes and royalties – a sizeable economic legacy that will benefit both Hope and all of Canada.

We understand and expect that people have questions and concerns about the pipeline. We are always happy to answer questions and hear your feedback about the current line or our proposed expansion. We hope that interested Hope and area residents will take the time to learn more and provide their views at www.transmountain.com.

Lisa Clement,

Trans Mountain Expansion Project