Canadian regulators delay review of Trans Mountain pipeline

Thu Sep 24, 2015 5:33pm EDT
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Canada's National Energy Board said on Thursday it has delayed the release of its recommendation report on Kinder Morgan Inc's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by five months to acquire additional information on the project.

Kinder Morgan is seeking approval from regulators to nearly triple the capacity of its existing 300,000 barrels per day Trans Mountain line from Edmonton to Canada's Pacific Coast to 890,000 bpd.

The report will give the NEB's recommendations on whether the pipeline expansion should go ahead, and is now expected to be released by May 20, 2016. Previously, it was scheduled to be released on Jan. 26, 2016.

"We have received the updated steps and process from the NEB. We are currently reviewing the timeline and whether there are any implications to our project," Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Ali Hounsell said.

Kinder Morgan currently has construction scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2016 and anticipates the pipeline will be in service by the third quarter of 2018.

The NEB has 15 months from the date it determines a project application is complete to issue a decision or recommendation, but is allowed to exclude periods of time from that 15-month limit, effectively pausing the review. After receiving a recommendation from the NEB, the federal government would have up to three months to make a final decision.

This is the second time regulators have imposed an exclusion period on the Trans Mountain application.

It comes as a result of a decision by the hearing panel on Aug. 21 to strike evidence in favour of the pipeline prepared by consultant Steven Kelly, who was recently appointed to the NEB.

Regulators were concerned that including evidence from Kelly would lead to questions about the impartiality of the review process. (Editing by James Dalgleish)