By: Korie Marshall
Kinder Morgan is planning to expand the pipe diameter for a 120-kilometer section of the proposed Trans Mountain expansion from Hargreaves (near Mt Robson) to Blue River. The company is now proposing a 42-inch diameter pipeline, six inches larger than the 36-inch pipeline it originally proposed, an increase of roughly 36 per cent. The company says the change will eliminate two crossings at the Fraser River and two pump station expansions, reducing the required power upgrades in the upper North Thompson valley, should their expansion proceed. It is still in the government approval process.
Greg Toth, Senior Director for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project says it is part of the “optimization” work on the pipeline route. Toth, who was also involved in the Anchor Loop project through Mt. Robson Park and Jasper National Park in 2006-07, says the twinning of the pipeline through the parks required a new pump station at Rearguard, about halfway between Mount Robson and Tete Jaune. The pump station required Kinder Morgan to install 27 km of powerlines from Valemount to Rearguard.
Toth told the Goat the originally proposed 36-inch pipe would have required a second pump station at Rearguard, which is at the very end of the powerline from Kamloops. The end of a line is where the power grid is weakest, so that was a problem, and BC Hydro had been studying what would be required to meet Kinder Morgan’s power needs.
One option was to go with a bigger pipe. Following some environmental and risk assessment studies, Kinder Morgan recently let the Village of Valemount know they’ve decided to propose this change to the National Energy Board, in a filing on Dec. 1st.
Toth says the larger pipe allows the same flow rate through the section, but with less friction losses or “head” loss.
“It takes less horsepower to move fluids through that segment than it does through the smaller pipe,” says Toth. “So that allows us to eliminate the extra Rearguard pump station.”
The current pipe is routed along the south side of the Fraser River coming from the east and leading up to Rearguard, but it has to cross the river into the pump station, then cross the river again back to the south. Since a new pump station is no longer required, that eliminates the need for four kilometers of pipe, including two crossings of the Fraser River.
The larger pipe will also mean one less pump required at each of the Blue River and Blackpool pump stations, though one extra pump station will be needed at McMurphy, between Blue River and Clearwater.
“It means a decrease in the total required horsepower, but also a rebalancing of the power required to further south in the Thompson Valley,” says Toth. That means a decrease in the requirements for BC Hydro’s to expand the power system around Valemount.
Toth says 28 per cent of the system is already twinned, with the most recent being the Anchor Loop, from Hinton to Hargreaves, and it is all 36-inch pipe. The rest of the proposed pipe to the Lower Mainland will still be 36-inch pipe.