Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion construction complete in Edmonton area

Workers place pipe in a handout photo from Trans Mountain. Credit: Trans Mountain Corp.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the name of the company that completed the contract. Global News regrets the error.

After two years of work, construction on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is complete in the Edmonton region.

Trans Mountain Corp., a federal Crown corporation, announced Tuesday the work to replace the existing line that runs through several south Edmonton neighbourhoods had wrapped up.

The new lines run nearly 50 kilometres from Trans Mountain’s Edmonton Terminal in Sherwood Park to the Acheson Industrial area west of the city.

Much of the new pipeline was laid along the Transportation Utility Corridor in which the south leg of Anthony Henday Drive is located.

Map showing the current Trans Mountain Pipeline and the route for the replacement section around Edmonton. Trans Mountain Corp.

The project included complicated crossings under roads and the North Saskatchewan River.

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Trans Mountain used a trenchless construction technique to minimize the need for closing major roads, as well as horizontal directional drilling (HDD.)

Construction began in December 2019 and included the installation of 48,762 metres of pipe, 14 horizontal directional drills, and 472 tie-ins, or work to connect together different sections of pipe to form the single line.

Click to play video: 'Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion pipe nearly half laid in Edmonton'
Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion pipe nearly half laid in Edmonton

Trans Mountain said the project took 1.5 million person-hours of work to complete. SA Energy was the contractor leading the pipeline expansion work in the Edmonton region until early 2021, when the contract was then awarded to Midwest Pipelines for completion.

“This is an important milestone for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, made possible by the hard work and dedication of some 900 workers, and our Indigenous and local business partners,” said Trans Mountain Corp. president and CEO Ian Anderson.

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Read more: Indigenous non-profit group seeks ownership stake in Trans Mountain Pipeline

Anderson said 22 per cent of the workforce on the Edmonton expansion was Indigenous and $57 million in contracts were awarded to 42 Indigenous businesses.

The Enoch Cree First Nation, located directly adjacent to west Edmonton, hosted one of the staging sites for the construction.

FILE: Then-premier Rachel Notley joined Enoch Cree Nation, the federal government and Trans Mountain officials for a special blessing ceremony near the site that would store pipe needed to build the Trans Mountain Expansion project on July 27, 2018. Fletcher Kent, Global News

While the pipeline construction phase in the greater Edmonton area is complete, there are still several steps before the new stretch of the pipe is ready for operation. Some activity will continue along the line, including reclamation work and seeding.

Trans Mountain said other construction work continues at the Edmonton Terminal, pump stations and on the other spreads and facilities along the line.

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Read more: Energy projects help bring big economic boost to town of Edson

The pipeline expansion is designed to triple the capacity of the existing 1950s-era pipeline between Edmonton and a shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C., to about 890,000 barrels per day of products including diluted bitumen, lighter crudes and refined fuels such as gasoline.

Construction of the entire project was suspended for several weeks last winter, following the death of one worker and the serious injury of another.

worker was hospitalized on Dec. 15, 2020, after an on-site incident at the Burnaby Terminal in B.C., where the 1,150-kilometer-long pipeline ends.

The B.C. incident happened seven weeks after Samatar Sahal, a 40-year-old employee of SA Energy, died at the worksite on the west end of Edmonton.

Click to play video: 'Father of 4 identified as worker killed at Trans Mountain pipeline site in west Edmonton'
Father of 4 identified as worker killed at Trans Mountain pipeline site in west Edmonton

Sahal was caught and pinned under a crossbeam of a trench box that was being disassembled near the intersection of Whitemud Drive and Winterburn Road/215 Street.

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Read more: Work on Trans Mountain pipeline resumes after safety review

Trans Mountain said as of Jan. 8, overall construction on the expansion was more than 45 per cent complete and inclusive of pre-construction activities, had exceeded 55 per cent overall progress.

Construction is currently accelerating on the pipeline portions in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland of B.C.

Trans Mountain said some major portions of the project, including the Burnaby Mountain Tunnel and Westridge and Burnaby Terminals, are all past the halfway point in construction.

The existing pipeline was shut down for three weeks as a precaution on Nov. 14, amid record-breaking rainfall that caused catastrophic flooding and mudslides across southern B.C.

The 21-day shutdown marked the longest in the pipeline’s 68-year history.

TMX came back online at reduced capacity in early December, and the company said it resumed normal operating pressure in mid-January.

Read more: Trans Mountain pipeline back to full capacity in late January at ‘earliest’: exec

Click to play video: 'Trans Mountain pipeline restarts after 3-week shutdown'
Trans Mountain pipeline restarts after 3-week shutdown

The company said as of Dec. 31, 2021, there were approximately 12,700 people working on the overall project.

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Trans Mountain is Canada’s only pipeline system transporting oil from Alberta to the West Coast.

It was bought by the federal government for $4.5 billion in 2018, after previous owner Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. threatened to scrap the pipeline’s planned expansion project in the face of environmentalist opposition.

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