January 23, 2018 / 2:01 PM / 4 months ago

Canadian city to argue Trans Mountain oil pipeline route harmful

VANCOUVER, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The proposed route of Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion through the west coast Canadian city of Burnaby will damage parks, harm sensitive ecosystems and impact critical infrastructure, the city will argue on Tuesday.

The Vancouver suburb will present its case over three days to the Canadian energy regulator, National Energy Board (NEB), at hearings to help determine the exact route of the 1,147 kilometer (712 mile) oil pipeline. The project was approved by the Canadian government in 2016.

Burnaby, a fierce opponent of the C$7.4 billion ($5.9 billion) project, has been sparring with Kinder Morgan for years over construction of a second pipeline largely along the route of the existing one. The proposed “twinning” of the line would nearly triple capacity to 890,000 barrels per day. The pipeline carries oil from Alberta’s energy heartland to a marine terminal in Burnaby, British Colombia.

Late last year, the NEB ruled that Kinder Morgan could sidestep certain municipal permits that the company said it was unable to obtain from the city, allowing some early construction work to move ahead.

Despite the win, Kinder Morgan last week further delayed the start-up of the expanded line to December 2020, adding another three months to a previous nine month delay it blamed on the permitting difficulty.

The route hearings are a separate part of the regulatory process and are required before major construction can start. The current round will run until January 31, with more to come in communities all along the pipeline’s path.

The Trans Mountain expansion is backed by Canadian oil producers, whose landlocked product trades at a discount to the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, and who are desperate for access to international markets.

But the project faces opposition from certain municipalities along its route, the province of British Columbia, some Aboriginal groups and environmental activists, who worry about spills and are against the expansion of the Alberta oil sands. ($1 = 1.2466 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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