The Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) has released its reasons for approving the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) route deviation application. The Commission found that continuing micro-tunnelling would most likely fail and could delay the completion of the TMEP by at least 10 months. This delay could result in an estimated $2 billion of lost revenue for Trans Mountain and cause negative impacts on shippers and other parties.
Trans Mountain initially agreed to build a 4.2-km segment using micro-tunnelling. They encountered technical difficulties, however, while micro-tunnelling in a 1.3-km section of the pipeline in the Pípsell (Jacko Lake) area. Even after several attempts, the technique was not successful.
Trans Mountain then applied to revise the route within the approved corridor and change the construction method from micro-tunnelling to a combination of horizontal directional drilling and conventional open trench (OGJ Online, Sept. 28, 2023). The government project said it was confident that about 80% of construction within the Pipsell corridor would be completed using trenchless construction.
Based on Trans Mountain’s engagement efforts, the Commission’s hearing process, and the mitigation measures Trans Mountain is required to implement, the Commission determined that there had been adequate consultation and accommodation with Indigenous Peoples to make its decision.
TMEP will increase the 615-mile pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 b/d from 300,000 b/d. Trans Mountain hopes to have the expansion in service by first-quarter 2024.