Trans Mountain, Coastal GasLink launching final year of pipeline construction

The benefits to Canada are already increasing

By Deborah Jaremko, published by the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd.

This time next year, construction could be complete on both the Trans Mountain Expansion and Coastal GasLink pipelines, setting up Canada for the first major deliveries of its responsibly produced oil and gas to the world.

Overall, Coastal GasLink is 80 per cent complete and TMX has reached 73 per cent completion, according to new project updates.

“As Coastal GasLink enters into its final year of construction, we are on track to deliver cleaner, Canadian-made energy to the world at a time it is needed most,” the project said in a statement.

Coastal GasLink will deliver natural gas produced in northeast B.C. to Canada’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal, being built at the Port of Kitimat.

TMX will significantly increase capacity for Canada to export oil from Alberta through the Westridge Marine Terminal at Burnaby, B.C.

Both projects will help meet growing demand for oil and gas, particularly in Asia.

The International Energy Agency’s latest outlook sees natural gas demand in the Asia-Pacific region growing by 27 per cent between 2021 and 2050. Oil demand will also continue to grow, increasing by 10 per cent over the same period.

The benefits to Canada are already increasing.

This fall, Coastal GasLink and TMX together employed nearly 22,000 workers: 15,560 on TMX and 6,365 on Coastal GasLink. Indigenous people represent about 10 per cent of the workforce so far, Trans Mountain says.

Combined, the two pipeline projects have spent more than $4.6 billion with Indigenous and local businesses (over $3.2 billion for TMX and more than $1.4 billion for Coastal GasLink).

Indigenous communities aren’t just benefitting from project agreements and business contracts. They will become project owners.

“When First Nations benefit, the whole region, the province, and Canada benefits. All of us benefit together,” said Chief Priscilla Mueller of the Saik’uz First Nation, one of 16 Indigenous communities in B.C. who will become 10 per cent equity owners of Coastal GasLink when it is completed.

Meanwhile, Indigenous groups including Project Reconciliation, Nesika Services and Chinook Pathways are in the process of seeking an ownership stake in Trans Mountain once the expansion is completed.

The projects are both hitting big milestones. Coastal GasLink has completed nine out of 10 major watercourse crossings, and Trans Mountain recently finished drilling a 2.6-kilometre underground tunnel connecting its Burnaby Terminal and Westridge Marine Terminal.

New pump stations for the Trans Mountain expansion are over 90 per cent complete.

“Across Alberta and BC, we are in the process of transitioning our completed facilities and pump stations over from Project to operations,” Trans Mountain CEO Dawn Farrell said in a statement.

“This is a great step forward towards successful integration of the new pipeline later in 2023.”

Trans Mountain anticipates completion to occur at the end of the third quarter of 2023, with commercial service following before the end of the year. Coastal GasLink expects to complete construction “by this time next year.”