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Kinder $5 Billion Pipe Expansion Gets Extended Review

Canadian regulators will extend their review of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion because of a route change, delaying a federal decision on the C$5.4 billion ($5 billion) project.

The National Energy Board will defer its recommendation to the Canadian government on the project by six months to January 2016, from July 2015 previously. A route change recently proposed by Houston-based Kinder Morgan requires more study, Sarah Kiley, a spokeswoman for the regulator, said on a call with reporters today.

Kinder Morgan, which said in December the expansion could begin operating in late 2017, said today it’s reviewing the board’s revised hearing schedule and the “implications of these changes.”

The Trans Mountain project would bring additional output from Alberta’s oil sands to Canada’s Pacific Coast, almost tripling the system’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day. Oil-sands developers seeking new markets for surging output are facing roadblocks as pipeline opponents try to delay or halt new projects, including the Keystone XL pipeline.

The expansion would involve laying another pipe alongside the existing line, which has been in operation since 1953. The company needs federal permission in some areas to add the extra line. Its transit through Burnaby Mountain near the line’s terminus may require additional environmental and geotechnical studies, Kiley said.

The city of Burnaby, British Columbia, has blocked Kinder Morgan from studying lands it would cross for the expansion and the company may need to ask the regulator to intervene on its behalf, according to a June filing. The regulator has yet to receive any such request, Kiley said.

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