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Oil pipeline to take all-new route from Surrey to Burnaby

The existing 13 oil storage tanks in north Burnaby would be doubled to 26 and their capacity would more than triple, according to Kinder Morgan
The existing 13 oil storage tanks in north Burnaby would be doubled to 26 and their capacity would more than triple, according to Kinder Morgan's pipeline twinning project description.
— image credit: Kinder Morgan Canada

Kinder Morgan Canada plans to stake out an almost all-new corridor for its second oil pipeline from Port Kells in Surrey to Burnaby to avoid digging through private property in densely populated neighbourhoods.

Greg Toth, senior project director of the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning, said following the existing right-of-way – as the company intends on most of the rest of the route through the Fraser Valley and the Interior – would be too disruptive to existing land owners.

"We're looking to municipal infrastructure, highways, railway lands and others that we can co-locate with," Toth said in an interview Monday. "We're trying to align the pipeline in those pre-existing corridors."

Besides following local streets or utility corridors, the pipeline could be dug through municipal parks and regional greenways, the company confirmed.

A lengthy project description filed last week by Kinder Morgan sheds little new light on precisely what land would be dug up.

A 150-metre wide corridor is to be unveiled for study purposes as part of Kinder Morgan's formal application by the end of this year to federal regulators to build the new pipeline.

Detailed engineering would later narrow the construction zone to a smaller area within an 18-metre right-of-way. Further 30-metre "safety zones" created on either side of the right-of-way would give the company a perpetual sign off on any land alterations.

According to the new filing, the existing tank farm in Burnaby would be doubled to 26 tanks and one more tank would be added at Sumas.

Toth said the expansion in Burnaby – more than tripling storage capacity to 5.6 million barrels of oil – is necessary to provide scheduling flexibility, as the company doesn't control when tankers arrive.

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart said the Burnaby tank farm expansion is a concern.

"They're all up on a hill," Stewart said. "What if you had an earthquake? That's the big one for me. In the Japanese earthquake a lot of the things blowing up were refineries and storage tanks."

Even if the pipeline right-of-way runs down alleys or municipal roads, he said, the 30-metre safety zones on either side could still lower property values because homeowners may be constrained from installing a pool or making other improvements in their yard.

The project would include replacing the existing tanker dock at Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby with two new docks that have three berths for tankers.

Dredging may be needed as part of dock construction, the project description says.

But officials say they have no plans to dredge the Second Narrows or to use bigger tankers than the ones already in use in the harbour today.

Capacity of the line is currently 300,000 barrels a day, and Kinder Morgan's second pipe would increase capacity to 890,000 barrels a day.

The project description says the terminal currently handles an average of five tankers and three barges a month, with two barges outgoing with crude oil and one incoming with jet fuel. Shipments have varied widely in recent years depending on market demand.

The expansion would boost the number of oil tanker shipments to as many as 400 per year.

In operation since 1953, the Trans Mountain system extends 1,150 kilometres from Edmonton along Highway 16 through Jasper National Park, then southwest along Highway 5 to terminals at Kamloops, Sumas, and Burnaby.

The original 24-inch line has been modified several times over the years, allowing it to transport refined fuels as refineries closed in Kamloops and the Lower Mainland in the 1980s and 1990s.

The pipeline supplies crude oil to Chevron's Burnaby refinery and the Westridge Marine Terminal, where since 1956 ships have carried crude to California, the U.S. Gulf Coast and Asia. A branch line from Sumas supplies refineries at Anacortes, Ferndale and Cherry Point in Washington state.

– with files from Tom  Fletcher

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