Kinder Morgan takes issue with facts as Greens urge other parties to oppose pipeline expansion

Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr, BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk and federal Green Party MP Elizabeth May at a press conference on Wednesday. Photo by Beth Hong for The Vancouver Observer.

While Green party leaders called for all political parties in Canada to come out against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project on Wednesday, a representative from the company took issue with their facts.

Federal Green Party MP Elizabeth May, BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk and Vancouver City Councillor and federal Green Party deputy leader Adriane Carr joined first nations leaders to state their opposition to the company's plan to expand their capcity for transporting oil from Alberta to Metro Vancouver and beyond.

"We would end up with as many as 300 to 360 super tankers a year trying to get out from under the Second Narrows, under Railway Bridge and under Lions Gate Bridge," May said. 

"These are areas with significant tidal influences and the precision of the movement of these super tankers would have to be 100 per cent perfect every day of the year to avoid a serious accident that could foul our waterways, our beaches and our shorelines from the Lower Mainland to the islands." 

May also cited the "near-crisis point" of global warming as another reason for opposing the proposal to increase the Kinder Morgan pipeline's capacity to transport oil from Alberta to Metro Vancouver and beyond.

But responding to questions from The Vancouver Observer, a representative from Kinder Morgan said the public should make "an informed decision based on facts," and disputed what she said were inaccuracies in the Green Party's comments on the project. 

"Our project is not built at all on super tankers. It is built on an Aframax-sized vessel, which is the same size as vessels that are actually coming in through our facilities today,"  Lizette Parsons Bell, lead stakeholder engagement and communications of Trans Mountain, said.

Three hundred is the more accurate figure for the number of tankers, Bell said, noting that the actual proposed increase by Kinder Morgan was 750,000 barrels per day (bpd), and not 850,000 bpd as stated by the Green Party and reported by some media outlets.

In addition, she said the products going through the Trans Mountain pipelines are a mix of petroleum products, and not all diluted bitumen (dilbit). 

According to the Kinder Morgan site, the Trans Mountain pipelines transport crude oil, refined and semi-refined products together. This process, known as “batching,” means that a series of products can follow one after another through the pipeline in a “batch train." 

A typical batch train in the mainline is made up of a variety of materials being transported for different shippers. Products next to each other in the pipeline can mix.

This mixing -- or product interface -- is kept to a minimum by putting the products in a specific sequence. Any products that do mix are re-refined for use, according to the website.

"We hope British Columbians and Canadians will take the time to learn the facts about the project, and that way they can form a fully informed opinion," Bell said. 

Kinder Morgan is currently undertaking comprehensive pipeline routing studies, "traditional knowledge" studies, environmental and socio-economic assessments according to its timeline, she said.

Adrian Dix should strongly oppose Kinder Morgan, says BC Green leader

BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk said she wants to see the BC NDP and BC Liberal Party unequivocally oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

"I'd like to see the NDP under Adrian Dix come out very strongly opposed to the Kinder Morgan expansion, just like they have against the Enbridge pipeline, and I'd like that opposition to be unequivocal," Sterk said.

BC NDP environment critic Rob Fleming said the problem is the Harper government's scaling back environmental assessments across Canada. He cited this as the reason for his party's calls for an independent made in BC environmental assessment.

"As a province, you have to conduct your own environmental review that will address some of your concerns that -- in the case of Enbridge -- have been left completely out of the process, such as the inadequacy of addressing First Nations," he said, referring to lessons learned from the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
Sterk said that she'd like to see the BC Liberals unequivocally oppose Kinder Morgan, but doesn't hold out much hope.

"The BC Liberals don't see the Kinder Morgan expansion as such a big deal, and they don't seem concerned about expanded tanker traffic and the Vancouver area and along our coast," she said.

Kinder Morgan plans to apply for regulatory review by October 2013

Bell said that Kinder Morgan Canada plans to file an application to the National Energy Board (NEB) by October 2013 for a regulatory review of the proposed project.

Currently, the Trans Mountain pipeline is the only one in North America that transports both crude oil and refined products to the west coast.

It moves oil to marketing terminals and refineries in the central British Columbia region, the Greater Vancouver area and the Puget Sound area in Washington state, as well as to other markets such as California, the U.S. Gulf Coast and overseas through the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.

The terminal currently handles approximately eight vessels per month, according to Kinder Morgan Canada.

The projected $4.1 billion expansion proposal would increase the capacity of the current system from 300,000 barrels per day to up to 750,000 barrels per day.

"We have time right up until October 2013, and we'll be out with communities along pipeline routes in Alberta and we'll be online," Bell said, referring to the Trans Mountain website.

"We want to hear from people and what their concerns are."

May, meanwhile, urged people to voice their opinions,  beyond partisan lines, about the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

"Even if you didn't vote Green, I'd urge you to work on your own parties, let them know what your concerns are," she said.


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