TMX mainline construction kicked off, again

Acheson, Alta. – In what might be a case of déjà vu, Trans Mountain Corporation has again kicked off mainline construction on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project (TMX) on Dec. 3

Company president and CEO Ian Anderson was joined by federal Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan and Alberta Energy Minister Sonja Savage, among other dignitaries, at Atcheson, Alta., the western end of the first spread, or section, of the project.

“Today is a very important milestone of this project, as you can imagine,” Anderson said. “You can see pipe on the ground, and within days, maybe a couple of weeks, that pipe will be in the ground. It will be in the ground before Christmas. We’re progressing steadily on all the permitting and regulatory aspects of this project.”

He noted the project was conceptualized in 2008-09.

The pipe being used came from EVRAZ Regina. There is $40 million committed on that spread alone to Indigenous contractors.

“It’s been a journey, as many of you have watched over many years,” Anderson said.

“We’ve been resilient. We maintained our commitment to this important project. And with the support of the federal government, in 2018, when they acquired ownership of this project, we were able to continue our hard work,” Anderson said.

“This project would not be here, today, without the tremendous support of both the federal and provincial government, who have encouraged us all along the way, who reminded us of the importance of this project on the national scale, and reminded us this is a project of utmost importance to Canadians of all locations.”

“So, we’re very proud to kick this off on the lands of Treaty 6, the lands of the Enoch Cree.”

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount over the course of the last couple of years, notwithstanding an ownership change. We’ve learned that there are local interests, there are local concerns we need to take care of. We needed to adapt our route. We needed to install different kinds of pipe. We needed to install that pipe in different ways than perhaps traditionally would have been done, in some locations, to respect some of the local habitat.

“We now have 57 support agreements with different Indigenous communities between Edmonton and Vancouver Island. A year and a half ago, that number was 43. So, we’ve continued our work to build support, to build inclusion, to share the prosperity with everyone in this great country of ours,” Anderson said.

He said they are prepared to invest in the best technology, not only for building the pipeline, but to monitor it. That includes leak detection technology that will be first of its kind on a project of this type in the world.

“We will be using thicker-grade pipe in locations where regulations don’t tell us we have to, but our standards of performance, and expectations for this asset tell us we should,” Anderson said.

“We’re doing many things to make this the best darn pipeline in the world, and trust me, that’s what our objective is. Our objective is to finish this project within the next 30 to 35 months. I’ve always said it would take 30 to 36 months to build this project, and we’re starting that as we stand here today.”

He said the focus of the Trans Mountain team is to deliver the project safely, with no one harmed, no environmental harm, in a commercially viable way, so that the current owner can sell it back to business.

O’Regan noted that since late September, more than 2,200 people have been hired for the project. “Canadian prosperity has, and will continue to be driven by people who know how to build things. Real things. Tangible things. Things built by people helping, in this instance, to move our resources from Alberta to new markets where they are needed.”

“Today marks the beginning of construction on Spread 1 of the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline. It is a project that will help our energy sector strong, in the short term, by providing good jobs. In the medium term, by getting our oil resources to new, non-U.S. markets, and getting access to better prices,” O’Regan said. “In the long term, by generating millions of dollars in new revenue that will fund technologies and green energy solutions, solutions that will ensure that Alberta will remain an energy leader as we work together to fight climate change.”

Working together with Indigenous communities, he said the project can be an important step on the path to reconciliation.

“This is a good day for our energy sector. This is a good day for Alberta. This is a good day for Canada,” O’Regan said.

“We were able to get to today, because, and only because, we did things the right way, every step of the way, taking the time that we needed to meaningfully consult with Indigenous peoples, and

O’Reagan thanked his predecessor, Amarjit Sohi, for his work on the project. The former Edmonton MP, who had been Minister of Natural Resources, was one of the federal Liberal cabinet minister who lost their seat in the October federal election.

“By committing to do things the right way, we are seeing pipe on the ground, that will soon be in the ground,” O’Regan said. “This pipeline will be completed.”

Savage said, “Yes, today is a very exciting step forward for Trans Mountain, for our province and our country. It’s about time. We’re glad we’re here now. Today is a step forward for economic growth and prosperity for all of Canada. For far too long, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project was mired in uncertainty, which makes the celebration today that much sweeter.”

She said it will result in billions of dollars in revenue and spur thousands of good playing jobs all across Canada.

Asked about when construction would start in other areas, Anderson said, “When we’re able to start work on a given spread, we will start work, season allowing.”

Land approval was given from Canada Energy Regulator two weeks earlier on Spread 2, he noted, and crews are being mobilized, with work expected to start in early January. Permits are still being worked out in British Columbia.

“My prediction is, by next spring, we will certainly be working in British Columbia, in Spreads 3 and 4, In the North Thompson. We’ll likely have some work going on in Kamloops by that time as well, if not sooner,” he said. Other spreads in the Coquihalla and Fraser Valley wouldn’t start until later summer or next fall, 2020, based on the season and permits. There are seven spreads in total.

“I would envision by next spring and next summer we will have clear line of sight to exactly how much work we’re doing everywhere,” Anderson said, adding, “We have been working in Burnaby for about a year and a half.”

Anderson expected pipe to be in the ground on Spread 1 before Christmas.

“It’s a 30 to 36 month build. “I can’t be working in the Coquihalla in the middle of winter.”

He pointed out that nothing has gone to plan for ten years.

Asked about the cost, Anderson said “Until I have the schedule, I don’t have a firm idea of costs.”

“It’s such an important day for the energy sector in this country,” O’Regan said. He noted the naysayers have been put to rest, saying, “Look around you. This is being built.”

“We’re determined to build it right, with our contractors like SA Energy,” Anderson said. “It’s been a long journey to get here.”

The first time around, in 2017, the contractor for the Alberta portion of the project was Midwest Pipelines. After Canada nationalized the project in 2018, non-union contractors were forced to give up certain spreads of the work due to international union pressure. SA Energy is a contractor with a unionized workforce under the major international pipeline trade unions.

The event kicked off pipeline construction in Greater Edmonton (Spread 1), which includes approximately 50 kilometres of pipeline running from Trans Mountain’s Edmonton Terminal in Sherwood Park to Acheson, Alta. SA Energy Group, the general pipeline construction contractor for Spread 1, has begun pipe transport, stringing and other preparation work that is necessary before pipeline installation. The press conference was held on a section of right-of-way where the topsoil stripping had already taken place. A large excavator was in the background, as well as several joints of pipe on skids.

Trans Mountain officially re-started construction on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project on August 22, 2019, with work underway at the Westridge Marine Terminal, Burnaby Terminal and at pump stations in Alberta. The work includes site preparation activities, in-water construction of new shipping berths, foreshore extension work and facility upgrades.

As of October 31, 2019, close to six million person hours have been spent on the Project. Trans Mountain has received more than half of the pipe needed for construction and are staging it at storage yards along the route.

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