Pipeline expansion project underway in B.C., Alberta

The $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project is under construction.

As of the end of September, 2,200 workers had been hired, and are working, mostly at each end of the pipeline, in Burnaby and Edmonton. Those numbers were originally expected to reach 3,000 by the end of this year.

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“We’re definitely excited to see it get underway because it’s going to mean an awful lot of employment for British Columbians and Albertans,” said Patrick Campbell, Canadian pipeline director for the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Campbell’s union represents about 35% of the workers on three of the pipeline segments or “spreads” in B.C. At peak construction, each spread will employ about 350 construction workers, tradespeople and labourers.

“I think every British Columbian who’s qualified to do this kind of work will be busy,” Campbell said. “These projects are nation-building in their scale because, I think, it will be reasonable to call upon other Canadians to augment the workforce.”

Security perimeters have been cast around some of the key construction areas, such as the Burnaby tank farm and Westridge Marine Terminal. In the Lower Mainland, much of the work going on is concentrated at the Westridge site, where barges, cranes, derricks and other heavy machinery are working to expand the existing terminal, which will have three berths for oil tankers. The work also involves extending the foreshore.

In B.C., some of the most intensive construction work will be done in Burnaby. There, in addition to the expansion of the Westridge terminal, 14 new oil storage tanks will be built at Trans Mountain’s tank farm on Burnaby Mountain, bringing the total number of tanks to 26.

The terminal and tank farm will be connected by pipeline. That section of pipeline will require boring a 2.6-kilometre tunnel through Burnaby Mountain. That work is expected to start in 2020.

“The terminals are sort of the critical-path items,” said Trans Mountain spokeswoman Ali Hounsell. “It will take the full three years to build Westridge Marine Terminal. And it will not take nearly that long to build a segment of pipe between X and Y in the middle of Alberta or through the Interior.”

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