Pipeline Operator Trans Mountain Says British Columbia Fires Pose No Risk to Its Operations

(Reuters) — Canadian oil pipeline system operator Trans Mountain said on Sunday that the British Columbia wildfires posed no risk to its pipeline operations or its expansion project.

"Trans Mountain is actively monitoring the wildfire situation and we are in constant communication with local and provincial agencies, including Indigenous communities," Trans Mountain said in a statement.

The province imposed an emergency late on Friday, giving officials more power to deal with fire risks. By Saturday, more than 35,000 residents were under an evacuation order and another 30,000 were under an evacuation alert.

Trans Mountain said that they maintain several wildfire equipment trailers and caches of equipment that allows for the safe construction and operation of the pipeline adding that underground pipelines are buried a few feet below the surface and are protected from the fire by the soil and constant movement of liquid moving through the pipelines.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2018 from Kinder Morgan Inc. to ensure the expansion project got built and provided a C$10 billion ($7.38 billion) loan guarantee to TMC.

It is meant to unlock Asian markets for Canadian oil, which is mostly exported to the United States now. But the project has been hampered by regulatory obstacles, environmental opposition, and construction delays, and is now anticipated to cost C$30.9 billion, more than quadrupling the C$7.4 billion budgeted in 2017.

($1 = 1.3546 Canadian dollars)

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