British Columbia’s fuel supply stable, Trans Mountain delays pipeline restart

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Transport and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming said barge and rail fuel shipments, along with rationing, are helping shore up the Lower Mainland’s tight fuel reserves while waiting for the Trans Mountain pipeline to restart.

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Fuel supplies for the Lower Mainland are stable for now, according to Provincial Transportation Minister Rob Fleming, although a new storm attack has pushed back Trans Mountain’s plans for a restart of its critical pipeline link to the Alberta.

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“The reality is that the supply (of fuel) is coming in significant quantities right now by barge, and of course by rail,” Fleming said at a flood briefing on Friday, and the channel British Columbia’s restricted supply “works well because the British Colombians are doing the right thing.”

With residents adhering to the 30-liter-per-fill ration restrictions, “we didn’t have any areas that absolutely ran out of gas, and we were able to replenish the supplies that ran out,” Fleming said.

He added that Energy Minister Bruce Ralston will attend Monday’s briefing to brief the province on Lower Mainland fuel imports, stocks and whether rationing will need to be extended beyond the 1st. December.

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In the meantime, Trans Mountain is working on a restart “at reduced capacity from early to mid-next week,” the company said in a statement Friday of the 300,000 bpd pipeline that has been closed since Nov. 21. 14.

On Wednesday, the company said it hopes the limited restart could take place by the end of last week.

“What made this a bit longer than we had hoped was the global bucket called access, to get to the areas we need to get to,” including some that are only accessible by helicopter, said said Trans Mountain spokesperson Ali Hounsel. .

Hounsel said she had not heard of crews needing to be moved out of areas due to renewed flood risks from another round of atmospheric river events, but bad weather limited air access. .

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“In some of these areas, we have just reached them ourselves”, by appropriating old forest roads, which “are in some cases a long and slower road to get to where we want to go”.

The Trans Mountain pipeline normally transports some 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to oil refineries in Washington State, 27,000 barrels per day of gasoline and diesel for distribution to service stations in British Columbia, and supplies for the 55,000 barrels per day Parkland oil refinery in Burnaby, which accounts for about one-third of the region’s needs.

Parkland suspended refining operations on Monday after crude stocks ran out, but on Friday spokesman Simon Scott said the company was able to import refined fuels by barge to its marine terminal on Burrard Inlet.

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“From there we have the ability to store the fuel and distribute it through the Lower Mainland by truck and to Vancouver Island by barge,” Scott said in an email, but “we are monitoring to very near progress to restart the Trans Mountain pipeline. . “

Suncor, parent company of the Petro-Canada retail brand, operates another marine terminal on Burrard Inlet, which has “currently (experienced) no significant supply impact” related to catastrophic flooding in British Columbia , according to spokesperson Leithan Slade.

The capacity of the Port of Vancouver’s ocean import terminals is limited, according to analyst Martin King of Houston-based consultancy RBN Energy, who spoke to Postmedia earlier last week.

“(They) alone cannot invent what the Trans Mountain pipeline does,” King said.

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Bloomberg News also followed earlier this week two US-flagged tankers heading for the high seas but abruptly changed course towards Vancouver.

The quantities imported, however, “are not minor,” said Dave Schick, vice-president for Western Canada at the Canadian Fuels Association, an industry group that represents refiners and distributors, including Parkland.

“And the CP Rail opening (Tuesday) also has fuel in it, so all of these things are a significant help to the situation” to stabilize inventory, Schick said.

depenner@postmedia.com

twitter.com/derrickpenner

– with Bloomberg files

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