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CALGARY, A.B. – The CEO of the Crown corporation building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion says shovels could be in the ground by September following cabinet approval Tuesday of the long-delayed project.
Oil could be flowing in new segments of the pipeline between Edmonton and the West Coast by mid-2022, Ian Anderson said, about one year later than the timeline envisioned last August when the Federal Court of Appeal quashed its regulatory approval and halted all fieldwork.
“We’re excited, our shippers are excited and the communities we touch are excited along the pipeline corridor,” said the CEO of Trans Mountain Corp. during a conference call Wednesday.
“We’re confident now that our project will meet every standard, every regulation, every test and reflect the values and priorities and principles that we all care for as Canadians.”
The National Energy Board is being asked to reinstate the record from the previous regulatory proceeding in 2016 so that the project can be brought back to the same state of construction readiness as last summer, Anderson said, a process expected to take some weeks.
He said the fact the federal government owns the pipeline won’t change or hurry the process.
Two re-routing requests are still to be decided, he said, including one involving B.C.’s Coldwater reserve, although those processes aren’t expected to affect the timeline.
He said contractors are being mobilized, pipe is being stockpiled in yards in Alberta and B.C. and the Burnaby Terminal on the West Coast is being made ready so that construction work can begin there as soon as permitted.
Anderson said there is no update on the last estimated project cost of $7.4 billion, while conceding that “time is money.”
Earlier Wednesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told a Calgary business audience the best way to convince a skeptical oilpatch that the expansion will actually be built is to go ahead and build it.
“What we said yesterday was that we renewed that (pipeline) approval,” Morneau told reporters.
“What’s happening today is we’re back at work. The re-permitting is happening starting today. We are going to get work going this construction season. I want people in Alberta and people across the country to know that intent is real.”
He repeated commitments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday that profits from the operation and sale of the pipeline will be used to support clean energy initiatives.
In his speech to the Economic Club of Canada, Morneau acknowledged the “huge amount of anxiety” in Calgary over the future of the oil and gas sector despite approval.
He insisted Canada can approve pipelines and still battle climate change, drawing a link between the issue of global warming and Western Canada’s wildfire problem this spring.
But much of the speech was devoted to an election-style listing of his government’s economic accomplishments over the past three years.
A federal election is expected in October.
Last August, the Federal Court of Appeal ripped up the original federal approval of the 590,000-barrel-per-day expansion, citing incomplete Indigenous consultations and a faulty environmental review.
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