Kinder Morgan files last minute objection to Joint Review’s proposed conditions for Northern Gateway

Kinder Morgan logoKinder Morgan has filed a last minute objection to the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel’s preliminary conditions for the Enbridge project.

One of the objections from Kinder Morgan is the provision in the JRP’s proposed Gateway conditions for “purpose built tugs” to escort tankers (a measure that Enbridge has proposed for the Gateway project). Another provision Kinder Morgan objects to is “secondary containment facilities at marine terminals” likely to become an issue if the Vancouver terminal is expanded by Kinder Morgan.

Overall, Kinder Morgan warns that if the JRP imposes some of the proposed conditions on the Northern Gateway, it could adversely affect future pipeline projects in British Columbia.

As well, Kinder Morgan, it appears, is already concerned that if the proposed oversight of Northern Gateway goes ahead, the Kinder Morgan plan to twin the pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver and expand terminal operations in Vancouver could face ongoing scrutiny and possible delays.

The Kinder Morgan document, from the company’s Calgary lawyer, Shawn Denstedt, of Osler, Hoskins and Harcourt, filed May 31, appeared among all the final arguments filed on Friday by intervenors and governments to the Joint Review Panel on Northern Gateway.

Kinder Morgan’s letter to the JRP comes long after the final deadline for such comments.

Kinder Morgan is a registered intervenor in the Northern Gateway hearings, but has only filed four previous documents during the entire multi-year process. The company does not appear on the list of intervenors scheduled to appear for oral final arguments in Terrace beginning on June 17.

On April 12, 2013, the JRP issued a preliminary list of 199 conditions for the planning, construction and operation of the Northern Gateway project.

Now Kinder Morgan is worried. Denstedt’s letter notes:

we believe a number of the proposed conditions may have a material impact on pipeline and infrastructure development in Canada and consideration should be given to the conditions from this perspective.

Diplomatically, Denstedt goes on to tell the panel:

Our comments are intended to assist the JRP in understanding the potential outcomes of the proposed conditions if they become generally applicable to industry.

Commercial considerations

Under what Detstadt calls “Commercial considerations”, Kinder Morgan says “we observe that several of the proposed conditions are likely to affect the manner and risks involved in procuring pipeline facilities and services.

The list points to

Three layer composite coating or high performance composite coating is required for the entire pipeline although other pipeline coatings are commonly used in the pipeline industry depending upon ground conditions encountered
Complementary leak detection systems must be identified that can be practically deployed over extended distances of pipeline.

The construction of purpose-built tugs involves significant cost and lead time

A volume is prescribed for the secondary containment facilities at the marine terminal without reference to existing codes.

The letter goes on to say that if the conditions proposed by the JRP for the Northern Gateway come into effect, in Kinder Morgan’s opinion, it could adversely affect other pipeline projects in the future.

If broadly applied to industry, such conditions may limit the ability of pipeline companies to obtain competitive quotes because there are few sources of the required materials or services. The effect of conditions that require the use of a particular material or service may be to grant commercial benefits to certain suppliers through the regulatory process beyond the requirements of existing codes. Since several export pipelines are currently proposed, there will be a heightened demand for labour and materials in the coming years. The commercial effect of conditions that may exacerbate shortages of labour and materials should be a relevant consideration for the JRP.



One of Kinder Morgan’s objections is to the timing the JRP proposes for the Northern Gateway project if it applies to other pipelines.

Several of the proposed conditions contain NEB approval requirements and filings deadlines several years prior to operations. For example, plans related to the marine terminal and research programs must be filed for NEB approval three years prior to operations.

We are concerned that requiring reports to be filed for approval several years before operations can create significant schedule risks for infrastructure development projects. For example, a project with a two year construction schedule could take three years to complete with such conditions. Any changes to the construction schedule and anticipated date of operations would affect the filing deadline. Project proponents need sufficient schedule certainty in order to plan major expenditures on labour and materials.

To mitigate such risks, it is relevant for regulators to consider whether the filing deadlines and approval requirements prescribed in conditions could materially alter a project’s schedule. Filing deadlines should be set at a reasonable time before operations in order to minimize the risk that such deadlines materially affect the critical path for a project.

Many of the conditions require NEB approval, and in some cases the participation of other parties in the approval process, in order to be satisfied. Fulfillment of those conditions will require additional time, a Board process and potentially litigation. For example, certain reports must be filed with the NEB for approval prior to commencing construction activities. Other conditions require reports to be filed for approval by the NEB prior to construction with a summary of how concerns from other government agencies and Aboriginal groups were addressed.

So Kinder Morgan says:

In our view, conditions that require subsequent board approvals and that attract the potential for additional regulatory processes should be the exception and not a new standard or norm. There must be clear, well understood rationales given as to why additional approvals are in the public interest.

And so Kinder Morgan asks:

As an alternative, the NEB may utilize its existing powers and processes to ensure that when filings are made to satisfy imposed conditions an additional approval process is not required.

Overall the company sees the rules for Northern Gateway as a step back to the days before deregulation.

A number of the conditions may be interpreted as reflecting a return to a prescriptive approach to regulation. These conditions prescribe detailed audit requirements instead of setting a goal oriented approach to allow the proponent flexibility in mitigating any adverse effects. Such conditions tend to focus on operational aspects that are covered by existing codes and regulations rather than setting goals for the proponent to mitigate any significant adverse effects.

Denstedt, again diplomatically, concludes by saying:

Kinder Morgan wishes to thank the JRP for the opportunity to present these high level perspectives regarding its proposed conditions. Our comments are intended to ensure that the wider implications of the proposed conditions on the pipeline industry and infrastructure development are given appropriate consideration in the deliberations and final recommendations of the JRP.

Kinder Morgan letter to JRP

Kinder Morgan announces plans to increase capacity of Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver

Trans Mountain pipelne
The Trans Mountain Pipeline (Kinder Morgan)

Kinder Morgan, of Houston, Texas,  said Thursday, April 12, 2012, it plans to proceed with expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline system from Alberta to the BC Lower Mainland. The company made the announcement after what the energy industry calls an “open season,” a search for customers where it received “strong binding commitments” from existing and new shippers. They pledged commercial support to an additional 660,000 barrels per day of bitumen sands crude from the pipeline. Demand has been high and reports say Kinder Morgan has had to ration petroleum products for its existing customers.

The 20 year commitment from the customers means the pipeline capacity would increase to 850,000 barrels per day from 550,000 barrels. That would make the eventual capacity of the Kinder Morgan pipeline much larger than Enbridge Northern Gateway’s proposed 525,000 barrels per day.

In a release,  Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada said, “We are extremely pleased with the strong commercial support that we received through the open season, which reinforces the appeal of our project and our approach. This strong commercial support shows the market’s enthusiasm for expanding market access for Canadian crude by expanding an existing system.”

Now Kinder Morgan has to get approval from the National Energy Board and acceptance from the local communities along the pipeline route from the Alberta bitumen sands to the terminals and refineries in Vancouver and in Washington state and for tanker export.

“This support from the market better defines the project and enables Kinder Morgan Canada to fully engage the local communities. We are still early in the engagement process of the project,” Anderson said in the release. “We share respectful, open relationships with many communities and organizations interested in our business. We are committed to an 18 to 24 month inclusive, extensive and thorough engagement on all aspects of the project with local communities along the proposed route and marine corridor, including First Nations and Aboriginal groups, environmental organizations and all other interested parties. We will also consider providing financial support to local communities for environmental initiatives. We have been planning for this day for many years and we are keen to start in depth engagement this summer.”

Kinder Morgan says the preliminary scope of the proposed project includes:


  • Projected capital cost of approximately $5 billion.
  • Twinning the existing pipeline within the existing right-of-way, where possible.
  • Adding new pump stations along the route.
  • Increasing the number of storage tanks at existing facilities.
  • Expanding the Westridge Marine Terminal.

Anderson added, “We anticipate filing a facilities application initiating a regulatory review with the National Energy Board in 2014. If our application is approved, construction is currently forecast to commence in 2016 with the proposed project operating by 2017.”

In addition to extensive engagement, the company will conduct traditional land use and environmental and socio-economic studies, and undertake detailed engineering and design studies, the release says.

The Trans Mountain proposal, like the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is a “facilities application,” and one uncertainty facing the company will be the highly controversial decision by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to speed up all future project applications of that type. Environmental groups have already expressed strong opposition to the speed up, while the energy industry has said faster application approval is long over due.

As well as the facilities application, Kinder Morgan says it will file “a commercial tolling application to review the company’s proposed commercial structure for the expansion. This filing, which is anticipated in summer 2012, will seek National Energy Board approval on how the company will charge its customers for transporting their product through the proposed expanded pipeline.”

Kinder Morgan says that for almost 60 years, the 1,150-km Trans Mountain pipeline system has been safely and efficiently providing the only west coast access for Canadian oil products, including about 90 percent of the gasoline supplied to the interior and south coast of British Columbia.

However, the continuing controversy over the Enbridge Northern Gateway and other pipeline projects, together with some accidents including the spill of 100,000 barrels of light crude near Abbotsford, has raised the profile of the Kinder Morgan line and therefore will likely bring more public scrutiny. Any increase in the capacity of the pipeline will also mean more tanker traffic in the already crowded waterways of the Vancouver harbour system and along the west coast.

Last June, Kinder Morgan also proposed the building of second pipeline from the bitumen sands to the west coast, roughly following the route of the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat. There was no mention of that project in today’s announcement.


Kinder Morgan aims to expand Trans Mountain pipeline: Globe and Mail

Energy Link

Nathan Vanderklippe writes in The Globe and Mail  Kinder Morgan aims to expand Trans Mountain pipeline

A second project has been launched to carry major new volumes of oil-sands crude to Pacific waters, amid mounting industry interest in exporting Canadian oil to Asia.
Kinder Morgan Canada has begun accepting bids from companies prepared to ship oil on a proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain system, which runs 1,150 kilometres from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

The Trans Mountain pipeline system, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., would be twinned to carry more crude.

The process is called an “open season,” and serves as an important kickoff to a project that has ambitions similar to the controversial $6.6-billion Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge Inc. It also promises to raise a new front in the battle between industry and environmental critics over building infrastructure to move oil across B.C. and onto tankers.

Both Northern Gateway and the Trans Mountain expansion seek to open new access to Pacific tidewater, providing a connection to Asian markets for an industry that is increasingly eager to break its dependence on the United States as virtually its sole export destination…

Kinder Morgan proposes second Kitimat bitumen pipeline

In a story broken early Thursday, June 2, by the Vancouver website Tyee and confirmed by Northwest Coast Energy news,  another major energy player, Kinder  Morgan is proposing a second pipeline to carry bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to the port of Kitimat.

The proposal was part of a presentation to industry analysts  during a conference on March 24, 2011, with a PDF of the Power Point presentation posted on the Kinder Morgan Website.

The  likely controversial proposal was not picked up by the media until Tyee broke the story.

The presentation says the proposed pipeline is one of several alternatives proposed for the expansion of the existing Kinder Morgan Transmountain Pipeline.  In this scenario the pipeline to Kitimat would branch off from the Transmountain Pipeline go through Prince George and then apparently follow existing pipeline routes to Kitimat and not follow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway route.


The Kinder Morgan presentation says the Transmountain pipeline branch to Kitimat would cost $4 billion, compared to the $5,5 billion that Enbridge has budgeted for the Northern Gateway project.  The Transmountain pipeline would have a capacity of  450 million  barrels a day compared  to the Northern Gateway capacity  of 550 million barrels a day.

Tyee says:

A power point presentation
for investors by Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada Group,
provides a wealth of information that has not been widely shared with
the general public or local governments:

Tyee says Kinder Morgan is also asking the National Energy Board for a immediate jump in the bitumen going through the port of Vancouver

They are also requesting to divert more Alberta crude and bitumen capacity to the Westbridge tanker terminal in Burrard Inlet and away from existing land-based refineries in B.C. and Washington. If approved, this would immediately expand crude capacity through Vancouver from 52,000 bpd to 79,000 bpd — an increase of more than 50 per cent


According to the documents seen by Tyee, the Vancouver end of the project would require the dredging of Second Narrows to allow large supertankers to visit the port. Tanker traffic in Vancouver would increase, Tyee says

Tanker transits through Vancouver will increase to 216 per year in 2016, up from 71 in 2010 and 22 in 2005.

All this is being propelled by increasing energy demand from China. It also appears that Kinder Morgan wants to increase the Vancouver capacity because of the delays in the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, which means that Alberta oil patch is seeking new ways to get the raw bitumen to China.

Kinder Morgan Canada presentation on the Kitimat pipeline and the Vancouver port expansion (PDF)

Kinder Morgan application to the National Energy Board (PDF))

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