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Trans Mountain pipeline restart ‘only a few days away,’ says company

Firm says latest round of rain and snowfall has not caused any new concerns
Construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline is pictured near Hope, B.C., Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The restart of the Trans Mountain pipeline is “only a few days away,” according to the company working to get the critical piece of infrastructure back up and running ever since a precautionary shutdown on Nov. 14 due to flooding and extreme weather in British Columbia.

Trans Mountain Corp. said in an update on Wednesday that this week’s latest round of rain and snowfall has not caused any new concerns for the integrity of the 1,150-km pipeline, which carries 300,000 barrels per day of petroleum products from Alberta to B.C.

However, the company — a federal Crown corporation — said heavy rains impacted air and ground access for its crews and caused substantial accumulation of water in some areas where work is already underway. Trans Mountain Corp. has more than 470 workers on the ground reinforcing berms and completing repairs to shore up parts of the line that were exposed by floodwaters two weeks ago.

Provided there are no additional setbacks from the latest round of rainstorms, the company said it should be able to restart the pipeline at reduced capacity within a few days.

Trans Mountain is the only pipeline in North America that carries both oil and refined products, and this is the longest shutdown it has experienced in its nearly 70-year history.

Last week, Calgary-based Parkland Corp. paused its refinery processing operations in Burnaby, B.C., due to a lack of crude oil supply from the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Burnaby refinery is a key supplier of gasoline to the Vancouver area.

Parkland spokesman Simon Scott said in an email Wednesday that the refinery’s processing operations remain paused, but other aspects of its operations like shipping and blending are up and running.

Scott said Parkland is importing fuel into Burnaby, storing it and transporting it to retail and commercial locations by truck and barge.

“The refinery is in ready mode — we’ll keep it that way until sufficient crude feedstock becomes reliably available,” Scott said. “In the meantime, we will leverage our supply capabilities and are confident in our ability to keep our retail and commercial locations supplied.”

On Monday, the government of B.C. said it is extending fuel rationing until Dec. 14. With the Trans Mountain pipeline shut down, B.C. residents have been asked to limit their purchase of fuel to 30 litres per visit to a gas station.

—Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Parkland moves to pause B.C. refinery operations due to Trans Mountain pipeline shutdown