Following a near two-month shutdown, the work on the multi-billion-dollar Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, including in Kamloops, is set to resume.
KTW contacted Trans Mountain on the weekend, asking for an update on the status of the project, and was told by a spokesperson that the Crown corporation was “taking the time now to renew and reinforce our commitments to the people and communities who are relying on us to complete this project in a safe, timely and efficient manner.”
On Monday (Feb. 8), Trans Mountain announced it would be restarting the project this week.
“Following a voluntary review of its safety and workplace practices, the Trans Mountain Expansion project has begun the restart process for construction,” it said in a statement. “A staged remobilization of the company’s 7,000-strong workforce will begin this week."
On Dec. 17, Trans Mountain shut down all of its sites between Edmonton and Burnaby. The shutdown was a few days earlier than scheduled for the Christmas break and came in the wake of an Oct. 27 death in Edmonton and a serious injury in Burnaby on Dec. 15. In addition, as of Dec. 28, there had been 91 workers along the 1,150-kilometre route testing positive for COVID-19.
Trans Mountain initially said it would resume work on Jan. 4, but sites have been empty since Dec, 17.
The Crown corporation said the shutdown allowed it to undertake a thorough review and examination of all workplace safety protocols and practices.
“The Canada Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) and other regulators continue to independently examine these events and Trans Mountain is working in full co-operation with their respective inquiries,” the company’s statement said, noting it has identified”enhancements to safety measures,” some of which may have been contributing factors to the events of the past few months. The company focused on and reviewed matters of compliance, communication, near-miss worksite reviews and reporting, along with workers’ fitness for duty, as a post-incident investigation revealed an isolated case of an employee failing a drug and alcohol test.
Trans Mountain said the restart process will begin with the safety re-training and re-orientation of all supervisors and workers before construction resumes.
Specific enhancements to Trans Mountain’s safety procedures include:
• More rigorous job-site safety training, particularly regarding the safe operation of equipment in proximity to other workers and communication between workers;
• Enhanced worksite inspections and regular audits;
• Rigorous incident and near-miss reporting supported by corrective action plans and systems;
• Upgraded communications equipment and protocols for its effective operation on job sites;
• Strengthened site supervision and the identification of daily site safety champions;
• Better prior safety planning around higher-risk work, including the completion of detailed worksite plans to control personnel movements, heavy equipment locations and supervisory responsibilities;
• Augmented fitness for duty assessments, including drug and alcohol testing;
• Increased hiring and training of personnel specifically responsible for ensuring safety during higher-risk work and day-to-day operations.
Every worker returning to the project will undergo a COVID-19 test and a fitness for duty test before being allowed on a job site.
As of the end of 2020, about 20 per cent of the pipeline expansion project had been completed, with 2021 expected to be the peak construction period, with thousands of people working in hundreds of sites across Alberta and British Columbia.
The federal government bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in August 2018 and the expansion project is expected to cost $12.6 billion. Once completed, the pipeline route’s capacity will triple, being able to carry 890,000 barrels of crude and refined oil per day from the current volume of 300,000 barrels per day.
The pipeline has oil receipt points at Edmonton, Alberta and Kamloops. At Kamloops, it also delivers products. At the Sumas delivery point, the Trans Mountain Pipeline connects with the Puget Sound Pipeline, owned by Trans Mountain Pipeline (Puget Sound) LLC, which delivers oil to four refineries on the west coast of Washington state. At the Burnaby Terminal, connecting pipelines enable deliveries of crude oil and refined petroleum products to Parkland’s Burnaby Refinery and to Suncor’s Burrard refined products marketing terminal.
Surerus Murphy Joint Venture is the contractor for the B.C. Interior portion of the project between Black Pines and the Coquihalla Summit, including Kamloops. That portion is known as Spread 5A.