TC Energy says Coastal GasLink pipeline now fully installed

WATCH ABOVE: Some Global News videos about the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline, one of the largest energy infrastructure projects in recent Canadian history, is physically complete.

TC Energy Corp., the company behind the project, said Monday it has finished installing pipe along the entire 670-km route from Dawson Creek, B.C. to Kitimat, B.C. — a milestone that marks the culmination of over five years of construction and 10 years of planning.

The final weld was completed Oct. 7 at the base of Cable Crane Hill near Kitimat, TC Energy said.

The company said mechanical completion of the pipeline, which involves final documentation, engineering analysis and testing, will be done before the end of the year.

The completion of the Coastal GasLink pipeline is a significant win for Canadian natural gas producers. The pipeline will transport natural gas from western Canada to the Shell-led LNG Canada processing and export facility currently being built in Kitimat — opening up new Asian markets for domestic natural gas drillers.

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That facility, which will be the first liquefied natural gas export facility in Canada, is still under construction. But LNG Canada said in an update in July that the project is 85 per cent complete and on track to start shipping its first cargoes by mid-decade.

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The LNG Canada facility itself, a more than $40-billion project, represents the single-largest private investment in Canadian history.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is one of two major pipelines — the second being the Trans Mountain oil pipeline — expected to come online in the coming months. Both are viewed by Canada’s energy sector as potentially transformative, in terms of their ability to improve access to markets and to allow oil and gas companies to expand their production.

The completion of the Coastal Gas pipeline has not been without challenges. What was initially expected to be a $6.2-billion capital project has run into significant budget overruns over the course of construction. Estimated project costs climbed first to $11.2 billion, and most recently to $14.5 billion, according to TC Energy’s latest project price tag estimate as of February.

Contributing to the increased costs have been unexpected construction issues, including problems with erosion and sediment control, and rising labour costs.

The project has also attracted opposition and protests from environmentalists and Indigenous leaders. While many Indigenous groups along the project’s pathway support the pipeline, the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs, whose territory the pipeline crosses, do not.

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In the winter of 2020, protesters blockaded freight and passenger rail services across the country to show solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.

TC Energy itself has been under significant scrutiny from investors and credit rating agencies for its heavy debt load as well as for the spiralling costs of Coastal GasLink.

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