Kinder Morgan's proposal to twin its Trans Mountain oil sands pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby through Chilliwack just got a lot bigger.
The company announced Thursday that an increased demand from customers led to a 20 per cent increase in the proposed expansion capacity from 750,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 890,000 bpd.
The cost of the project also rose from $4.3 billion to $5.4 billion.
"We continue to grow and this is a very exciting day for us and we think an exciting day for the industry and Canadians," Anderson sad.
The original expansion project announced early in 2012 called for a doubling of capacity of the 60-year-old, 1,150-kilometre pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Burnaby to 600,000 bpd. This quickly rose to 850,000 bpd but was later downgraded to 750,000 bpd.
Through Chilliwack, the pipeline runs under farmers' fields, residential neighbouhoods in Sardis, Watson elementary's school yard, Kinkora Golf Course and the Vedder River.
In a conference call Thursday, Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said he didn't want to speculate if the project could expand even further, particularly if Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proposal was withdrawn down the road.
"We don't have any plans currently for any change in project scope," Anderson said.
The increase announced Thursday was the result of firm customer commitments increasing from 508,000 bpd to 708,000 bpd.
"We are very pleased with the response from our customers," Anderson said.
In a press release, the company took the somewhat unusual step of listing the 13 companies that have signed long-term contracts for the expanded pipeline.
They include: BP Canada Energy Trading Company, Canadian Natural Resources, Canadian Oil Sands Limited, Cenovus Energy Inc., Devon Canada Corporation, Husky Energy Marketing Inc., Imperial Oil Limited, Nexen Marketing Inc., Statoil Canada Ltd., Suncor Energy Marketing Inc., Suncor Energy Products Partnership, Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company and Total E&P Canada Ltd.
Trans Mountain expects to file a facilities application with the National Energy Board (NEB) in late 2013, for authorization to build and operate the necessary facilities for the proposed expansion.
That application will include the environmental, socio-economic, Aboriginal engagement, landowner and public consultation and engineering components and initiate a comprehensive regulatory and public review process.
If approved, the project would be operational by 2017.
Sheila Muxlow of the local anti-pipeline group PIPE UP said Thursday that the announcement spurred a renewed call out to those opposed to oil sands pipelines.
"This is all the more reason for us to be advancing our work and strategy to stop the building of this new tar sands pipeline," Muxlow said in an email.