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The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion’s tortuous construction process has hit another snag, and the company said it was considering options to keep the project in line with its latest deadline.
On Jan. 29, Trans Mountain, the government-owned Canadian company responsible for the pipeline’s construction, issued a statement saying that “during the pipeline pullback activity,” a section requiring a horizontal directional drill “encountered technical issues, which will result in additional time to determine the safest and most prudent actions for minimizing further delay.”
Trans Mountain is still estimating, for now, an in-service date by the end of the second quarter, potentially pushed back from an anticipated April startup.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline is Canada’s sole westbound, crude-carrying line. The CA$30.9 billion (US$23.035 billion) expansion project is 97% complete, and is expected to triple shipments from Alberta to the Pacific Coast at a rate of 890,000 bbl/d.
In 2013, the original cost of the project was slated at CA$5.4 billion (US$4.025 billion) and was to be built by Kinder Morgan, which sold the project to the Canadian government in 2018. Company officials have blamed price increases on labor shortages, supply-chain issues and unexpected difficulties encountered in building through the more rugged areas of British Colombia.
The latest issues arose at the end of last week, Jan. 25 to Jan. 27. The company’s announcement of the delay was two paragraphs long.
Besides informing the public about the technical delay, the statement said Trans Mountain “is fully focused on the completion of the pipeline and will not be providing interviews at this time” as workers continue towards an in-service date in the second quarter of 2024.
On Jan. 24, just before the technical problems were encountered, a company leader speaking at the Argus Crude Summit in Houston gave a start-up date of early April, Reuters reported.
Less than two weeks before, the company cleared a major hurdle towards completion, when the Canada Energy Regulator ruled Jan. 12 in favor of a pipeline variance the Trans Mountain had requested. The variance, which allowed the company to shrink the size of a 1.4-mile segment in British Columbia, was needed to avoid a delay that could have lasted two years, according to Trans Mountain executives.
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