Wednesday marks the official start date of the long-awaited $34-billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project.

Crown corporation Trans Mountain Corp. says as of Wednesday, the expanded pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast will be transporting crude oil.

The project involved twinning an existing pipeline that runs from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

It took more than four years to construct, and was one of the most costly infrastructure projects in Canadian history.

The expansion increases the Trans Mountain system's shipping capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day, and will help open up global export markets for Canadian oil.

The increased capacity is expected to help improve the price Canadian oil companies receive for their product.

But even though the project is now complete, question marks linger as the federal government has said it intends to sell the pipeline.

The government purchased the pipeline for $4.5 billion in 2018 in an effort to get the project over the finish line, and has stated it does not wish to be its long-term owner.

Experts say because the project's price tag ballooned over the course of construction, the government will likely take a significant writedown if it sells.

It's opening day for the $34 billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion. #CDNPoli #TMX #TransMountainPipelineExpansion

Companies that ship oil on Trans Mountain are now subject to the new expanded system's tariffs and tolls. But Trans Mountain is currently locked in a dispute with its oil company customers about these rising fees.

The Crown corporation has said the higher fees are necessary to help to cover the budget overruns, which it has said were caused by things like the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather, and the need to deal with archeologically significant sites along the pipeline's route.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2024.

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The federal government (i.e. all Canadians who pay taxes) will likely take a significant writedown on the project whether they can sell it or not. Not one proponent has proven that TMX will generate higher prices, beyond magical thinking.

The great irony is that TMX is a gift to the companies that are complaining about the shipping fees, not to mention the government of Alberta which is the nation's top whiner about Trudeau, a PM that did all he could to appease Alberta and prove that he is not his father when it comes to dealing with that province.

Prairie pipeline supporters do not seem to understand that the end of the pipe is not the end of the journey. There is a 250+ km route through the nation's largest port, contorted international shipping channels and a beautiful island archipelago to reach the open Pacific where the majority of tankers will turn left and head for American coastal refineries, not Asia, and will receive the same old discount for a low quality product.

All it takes is one major spill to turn 3.5 million coastal BC residents against the feds and Alberta, and Washington state to join in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit for damages. We are not persuaded by the physically unsupported rhetoric about "top notch" marine cleanup, given the world history of spills over the last 50 years that documented just how little is accomplished to remediate the damage to marine ecological systems and economies by spilled petroleum.

If -- more likely when -- such an incident occurs, EV sales will skyrocket, and that's already in a province with the highest EV sales in the country. The generation of new renewable energy is already entering an S curve in growth worldwide, and the US is well underway to electrification. That is the marketplace TMX has just entered. Our best hope is to read about the "bad timing" later this decade as bitumen sales plateau and eventually taper off.

Everything outside of long term economic trends blended with climate action clearly hasn't worked to reverse the TMX white elephant.

Thousands of homeless people on the streets, a health care system that is falling apart, working people working paycheque to paycheque to survive, grocers gouging everyone and this government blows 34 billion on a pipe dream to satiate foreign owners and a greedy polluting industry. Management mismanaged by morons.

The hottest fires in hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis
--- Edmund Burke

Vote NDP federally to save what's left of our tax money before this government or the conjob government blows the rest of it on these dirty energy overlords.

Love to. But the electoral circumstance need to indicate that candidate stands a chance to defeat the Conservative candidate in my riding and not split the vote.

And the federal NDP appears to have voted to force a discussion about the carbon tax. Once again, we have no party willing to take climate change seriously - including questioning the possibility of endless economic growth.