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Canada Energy Regulator issues reasons for decision for the Trans Mountain deviation application

Press Release

October 20, 2023

Today, the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) released its reasons for approving the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) route deviation application.

There are several considerations behind the Commission’s decision including those related to ongoing engagement and prior agreements between the parties that are outlined further in the Reasons for Decision.

The Commission heard from Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) including one of its Knowledge Keepers, about the cultural and spiritual significance of the Pípsell area to the SSN. Trans Mountain indicated however that micro-tunnelling of the 1.3-kilometre (km) segment is not technically feasible and continuing to pursue it could cause more surface disturbance to the area.

In their decision of September 25, 2023, the Commission approved Trans Mountain’s application to change the route and method of construction for a 1.3 km section of the pipeline route in the Pípsell (Jacko Lake) area. The Commission found that continuing micro-tunnelling would most likely fail and could delay the completion of the TMEP by at least ten months. This delay could result in an estimated $2 billion of lost revenue for Trans Mountain and cause negative impacts on shippers and other parties.

Trans Mountain initially agreed to construct a 4.2-km-long segment using micro-tunnelling. However, they encountered technical challenges with micro-tunnelling in a 1.3 km section of the pipeline in the Pípsell (Jacko Lake) area. Even after several attempts, it was not successful.

Trans Mountain then applied to revise the route within the approved corridor, to change the construction methodology from micro-tunnelling to a combination of horizontal directional drilling and conventional open trench.

Based on Trans Mountain’s engagement efforts, the Commission’s hearing process, and the mitigation measures Trans Mountain is required to implement, the Commission determined that there has been adequate consultation and accommodation with Indigenous Peoples for this decision. The Commission also considered its duties and obligations in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the CER’s commitment to Reconciliation. The Commission finds that any additional requirements stemming from that Act and the CER’s commitments were adequately addressed through its regulatory processes that allowed for deep consultation and supported several key objectives of the UN Declaration.

Quick Facts:

  • The oral hearing was held from September 18-20, 2023, in Calgary, Alberta. Oral Indigenous Knowledge was heard on September 18, 2023.
  • The TMEP was previously found to be in the public interest and approved by the Governor in Council following a rigorous multi-year review process.
  • Trans Mountain said it was confident that approximately 80 percent of construction within the approximately 4.2-km-long Pípsell Corridor would be completed using trenchless construction.
  • In a deviation application, the Commission does not reconsider main issues from previous proceedings but assesses whether the deviation is required according to the CER Act.
  • The burden of proof rests on the applicant, in this case, Trans Mountain, to persuade the Commission that a deviation is required.
  • The Commission is responsible for adjudicative decisions and recommendations, operating as a quasi-judicial body that is arm’s length from other parts of the CER governance structure and the federal government.

Associated Links:

The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) works to keep energy moving safely across the country. We review energy development projects and share energy information, all while enforcing some of the strictest safety and environmental standards in the world. To find out how the CER is working for you visit us online or connect on social media


Media Relations Team
Canada Energy Regulator
Telephone (toll free): 1-800-899-1265


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