trans-mountain-pipeline-logoUPDATE: Sept 14 2018 – We just added new TMX articles you will find interesting:

Below are the answers to some questions we have received about the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.

We have tried to keep emotion out and simply present the facts for you to make up your own mind.


1 – Does the Current Trans Mountain Pipeline Leak?

The Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1952 and since records have been kept (since 1961 or 57 years) there have been a total of 82 leaks (HERE is the complete record) in the Trans Mountain pipeline, but only 9 of them were larger than the government regulated minimum reporting threshold of a staggeringly small 1.5 cubic meters.  The current pipeline has been upgraded and patched over the years but it is still fundamentally a 60 year old system.  The new pipeline will be constructed using all that has been learned in engineering in that time.

2 – Will The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Ever Leak?

Definitely.  The question cannot be, ‘will a major project have problems’ but ‘will that project be a notable improvement over what is in place now?’  Currently BC imports vast amounts of oil from Alberta on rail which is (at a minimum) 4.5 times more likely to have have spills than a pipeline.

3 – What Was The Worst Leak in Trans Mountain’s History?

On July 24 2007, a construction crew inadvertently hit the existing Trans Mountain pipeline with an excavator in Burnaby BC.  That caused 250,000 liters (which is 1500 barrels) of pressurized oil to shoot out of the ground, coating some of the houses in the area and small amount to seep into Burrard Inlet.   About 50 homes were evacuated.

4 – Will the TransMountain Pipeline Disturb Lakes and Rivers?

No, Kinder Morgan will use horizontal drilling techniques called “Trenchless Techniques” to go under any sensitive areas.

5 – How Can Moving More Oil Be Good For The Environment?


As you have seen in the most recent (and likely permanent oil downturn), the problem with oil is not production based… we have too much of it and it is a global commodity.  The problem with oil is consumption; that is you an me.  Not a single rational body has predicted the decrease in global oil consumption until the late 2030’s.  This means the environmental issue with oil is really about where the oil is produced.  Massive oil producers like Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Algeria (which many people are shocked to learn that all of which Canada and the US currently IMPORT oil from), have little interest in environmental concerns so they produce the ‘dirties oil’ in the world.  Oil produced in Canada and the US have strict environmental regulations and oversight which are more than matched by highly aggressive environmental groups.  Cleaning up the environment means MORE Canadian and US oil production, which necessarily means LESS Russian, Nigerian, … dirty oil.  “Keep It In The Ground” when it comes to US and Canadian produced oil is a formula for environmental disaster.

6 – Isn’t The Pipeline Fight Really About the Possibility of Tanker Spills Near Vancouver?

where-canada-gets-its-foreign oilWe think so. However, as you can see in the graphic to the right, the US and Canada already has hundreds of tankers that come to our shores each year without notable incident.  When was the last time you heard of a tanker spill in either Canada or the US?  Now think about the last time you heard of a spill of Russian, Nigerian or Venezuelan oil… all the time.  Greenpeace talks about 1 million barrels of oil being spilled each year in those countries.  If you want to save the environment, use Canadian and American oil.  Because of the permanent oil glut, the environmental carelessness of Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Algeria and many others is increasing at the same time the regulation and oversight are ramping up in North America.

7 – How Can Tankers Navigate BC Waters?

Tankers are REQUIRED by law to have two tug boats move them through BC coastline.


8 – How Much Land Will the Trans Mountain Expansion Consume?

kinder-morgan-trans-mountain-pipeline-mapIn terms of land consumed by the pipeline, the expansion is minimal as it will be constructed immediately adjacent or under the existing Trans Mountain line.

9 – How Long Is the Trans Mountain Pipeline?

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline runs from Edmonton Alberta to Burnaby BC for a total of 1150 kilometers.

10 – How Much More Oil Will The Trans Mountain Expansion Carry?

The existing Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline can transport 300,000 barrels of oil per day; the expansion will move that up to 890,000 barrels of oil per day.


11 – How Much Money Will The Trans Mountain Pipeline Construction Put Into Canada’s Economy?

Construction costs (which will provide both labour and materials jobs across the Canada) will be about $7.5 Billion over 3 years.

12 – How Much Additional Money Will Be Collected In All Of Canada From The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion?

Over 20 years, we will collected about $47 Billion… that is “B” like “Boy that money can do a lot to poverty, help solar, wind, pollution, getting rid of coal, health care, education…

13 – How Much Money Will Alberta Collect From The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion?

Over 20 years, the Province of Alberta will collect about $20 Billion

14 – How Much Money Will British Columbia Collect From The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion?

Over 20 years, the Province of British Columbia will collect about $6 Billion

15 – How Much Money Will Places Outside Alberta & BC Collect In Addtional Revenue As a Result of Mountain Pipeline Expansion?

Over 20 years, the Province of the rest of Canada will receive about $22 Billion

16 – How Much Money Will BC Municipalities Collect From The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion?

Over 20 years, towns and cities in British Columbia will collect about $1 Billion

17- How Much Money Will Alberta Municipalities Collect From The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion?

Over 20 years, towns and cities in Alberta will collect about $.125 Billion (yes, that is about 1/8th of what BC towns and cities will collect)


18 – How Many First Nations Communities Are Fighting the Trans Mountain Pipeline?


19 – How Many First Nations Communities Are Supporting the Trans Mountain Pipeline?

51, composed of 10 in Alberta and 41 in BC signed “mutual-benefit” agreements with Kinder Morgan.

20 – What were First Nations Communities not included the Negotiations?

They were; just not recently.  The Trans Mountain community consultations included more indigenous input than any other capital project in Canadian History.

21 – Did Any First Nations Change Their Mind and Support The Trans Mountain Pipeline After Additional Improvements Were Made To the Pipeline?

In November 2016, 12 Indigenous Communities joined the then 39 that had already supported the project signed on after the federal government approved the project with more conditions.


22 – Can The Trans Mountain Pipeline Be Used For Products Other Than Oil?

Yes.  Many (the vast majority?) people believe that once a pipeline is built, it is tied to a single material, like oil, and so they are opposed to pipelines thinking that increased infrastructure makes it harder to get away from oil.  In fact, pipelines are re-purposed and change flow direction all the time.  In this case the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline carries crude oil on some days and refined gasoline on other days.  The Energy East pipeline was going to re-purpose (from Natural Gas to crude oil)  and change the flow direction (from West to East, from its current East to West).  Today the TransMountain pipeline is used for petroleum products, but as they fade over the next 50 years, the line will almost certainly transport other products like water or hydrogen from BC to Alberta… and beyond.

…and a bonus point:

23 – Won’t Blocking Canadian Pipelines Reduce Climate Change?

Absolutely not.  Oil is a global commodity that is likely to be in a permanent oversupply situation.  This means insanely dirty producers like Russian, Nigeria and Venezuela will fill any demand that Canada and US does not.

If you want more facts on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline check out this great web presentation from the Globe and Mail.


Alycia · April 18, 2018 at 11:12 am

I am surprised to hear trudeau pushing for a pipeline, probably got back from his extended vacation and started looking at the neglected balance sheet. We need pipelines in all direction to stay competitive on the world stage and back out dirtier oil from less socially responsible producers. A pipeline east to supply the oil and equalization payment consuming hords out east really needs to happen, bringing tankers from the middle east paid for by money from the west is rubbing salt in the chronic wound. But for those who want to sit back and spout off on your ipads from the comfort of your petroleum heated homes or drive your car to a pipeline rally with your “tree hugger friends pull your heads out of your collective ass. Leaving oil in the ground is a good way to squander the opportunity to preserve our way of life, continue driving our economy into the ground and all of canada will be foreign owned. Canadian culture will get steam rolled by the other cultures flocking to our shores that don”t give a shit about the environment, they know overpopullation and fight for survival; and naive leadership and poor economic management of our resources will accelerate it. Its more than a pipeline, its an artery.

Future is now · May 15, 2018 at 10:39 am

Cost of a major oil spill on the coast of BC 40 billion dollars and that is just for starters !!!!! No way that pipeline should be built !!!!!!!

    Ian Matthews · May 17, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    This is the problem with the debate: Facts.

    With respect, the cost of a major oil spill is not anywhere near $40B. Numbers tossed around, like this one, just entrench people further as they ignore the ‘other side’ because they think
    they are making up facts. We need less Trumpian ‘facts don’t matter’ and more rational discussion.

      Steve · July 29, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Once the opponents to the pipeline finally realized that all the safety alarmism of the KM pipeline was neither true not working on the public, they swapped their shrill to the whales and dolphin alarmist rhetoric.

      They speak ONLY in terms that a tanker WILL eventually leak and continue to cover their eyes and ears to the mountains of overkill protocol in place on providing safe passage for tankers. The mantra of saying it enough times makes it true seems to be the end game.

      Nowhere in the world is tanker traffic so hugely babysat as what will be with BC tankers.

      But that’s the Canadian Way. More bubble wrap please there Justin.

Davis Keay · May 20, 2018 at 11:21 am

Kinder morgan has already attempted to back out of environmental responsibility in the case of a spill, the effects of dilbit aren’t even studied, we dont know how to clean it up, and the research to do so I fundamentally flawed as it’s being co ducted in fresh water tanks with salt added in, in alberta. The findings will not be conclusive as to how dilbit reacts in coastal waters, and we as tax payers will be stuck with the bill. I personally dont believe that an industry which already pollutes rivers and land in alberta (of which the government of alberta refuses to do health reviews of the indigenous communities around energy development areas, this is fact) causing much higher rates of rare cancers and diseases, lies about statistics, ( they have been caught about lying about spill volumes, indigenous consultations, and jobs created, this is fact), has Canadian interests in mind. Not to mention that Canadian tax payers might now be indemnifying this failing project from its fate, using our tax dollars to save an American company which has already proven itself untrustworthy.

    Ian Matthews · May 20, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Hi Davis;

    Those are fair points to make. I fundamentally disagree with several of them but I appreciate that you are rationally explaining your position with least amount of venom possible. Thank you for your thoughts.

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