Kinder Morgan says it will proceed with Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, despite political uncertainty

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      A Texas-based energy giant isn't stepping back from a controversial pipeline project.

      Kinder Morgan has announced a final investment decision to proceed with the US$7.4-billion Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project.

      If it's completed, it will increase bitumen shipments from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day through its system connecting the Alberta oilsands to the Lower Mainland. It would also result in a nearly seven-fold increase in the number of oil tankers travelling through Burrard Inlet.

      According to a Kinder Morgan news release, the project is contingent on securing financing.

      The company stated that it has commitments from shippers for about 80 percent of the capacity through the first 15 to 20 years of operation of its expanded system.

      "While the political climate was not ideal, the process proceeded at this time because the Trans Mountain Expansion Project financing contingency period, as specified in shipper agreements, concludes at the end of May," the company stated.

      Various First Nations, environmental groups, the City of Burnaby, and Democracy Watch have all launched separate legal actions against aspects of the pipeline-approval process.

      The B.C. Greens and the provincial New Democrats also oppose the pipeline and they won a bare majority of seats in the May 9 provincial election.