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World

AFP
August 22, 2019

Canada pipeline construction to start within 30 days: company

World

AFP
Thu, Aug 22, 2019

OTTAWA: Construction of a long-delayed and controversial pipeline expansion project to deliver oil to Canada´s Pacific coast for shipping overseas will begin soon, Trans Mountain announced Wednesday.

The company said it has asked construction contractors to mobilize equipment and start hiring as many as 4,200 workers.

Construction work, it said, would start within 30 days along the 715 mile (1,150 kilometer) route through the Rocky Mountains as well as on a terminal in Vancouver from which oil would be loaded onto tankers.

The pipeline -- likely to be a hot-button issue in October elections -- is expected to be in service by mid-2022, it added.

"Clearly, this project has been subjected to numerous delays and setbacks over the past several years," said Trans Mountain chief executive Ian Anderson.

"With today´s announcement on the commencement of construction, I firmly believe that we are finally able to start delivering the significant national and regional benefits we have always committed to."

The project would expand an existing pipeline to move 890,000 barrels of oil a day from landlocked Alberta to the Pacific coast, replacing a smaller, crumbling conduit built in 1953.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau´s government approved it in 2016, saying it was in the national interest to ease Canada´s reliance on the US market, boost local production and get a better price for its crude oil.

But its construction was delayed by protests and legal challenges from environmental activists and indigenous tribes worried that increased shipping along the coast could impede the recovery of local killer whale populations.

Trudeau´s Liberal government stepped in to buy it for Can$4.4 billion (US$3.3 billion) last year from Kinder Morgan and salvage the troubled expansion project.

After fresh court-ordered consultations with indigenous groups affected by its construction, the government announced in June that it was moving forward on the project.

That decision drew criticism from environmental groups that had traditionally sided with Trudeau, while proponents of the pipeline lamented how long it was taking to get it built, noting a lack of new pipeline capacity was throttling oil sands production.

The Ottawa government has said it aims to sell the pipeline once it is built and in operation.