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Canadian West coast oil tanker traffic set to double

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A new IHS CERA Oil Sands Dialogue study, Assessing Marine Transport for Canadian Oil Sands on Canada’s West Coast, has found that Canada has extensive experience moving crude oil by tanker. Furthermore, in light of proposed new pipeline projects to accommodate increased oil production led by the growth in oil sands, tanker traffic could double on Canada’s West coast.

Currently, there is less West coast tanker activity compared with the East coast. Approximately 3500 tankers visit Canada’s eastern region each year, while the West coast has less than 500. If approved, the two proposed projects, the Northern Gateway from Alberta to the port of Kitimat, BC and the Trans Mountain Expansion to Vancouver, would bring an additional 1.3 million bpd to the region, resulting in about 750 additional tanker visits to the West coast.

The IHS study has additionally found that despite a near doubling of the global oil tanker fleet over the last decade, the frequency and rate of oil spills have been dramatically reduced. Additionally, for those incidents when a spill does occur, the average volume has fallen 75% over the past 10 years.

The level of compensation available in Canada in the event of a spill also exceeds what is available internationally. In addition to being party to both of the additional funds established to provide compensation in the event of a spill, Canada has also established its own additional layer of domestic compensation; Canada’s Ship Sourced Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF) can provide up to C$ 159 million.

The study also observed that the Government of Canada appointed an expert panel to review the country’s current tanker safety system and to propose improvements in March 2013. The regulatory review process is currently underway for the Northern Gateway Project and expected later for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion.

The complete study is available here

Adapted from press release by Emma McAleavey

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