Ship tracking systems will be working overtime in Canadian, Washington and Asian ports as more and more LNG vessels bring much needed energy across the Pacific to fast growing Asian markets. The Hellenic Shipping News reported in December, 2013 that a proposed $5.4 billion Canadian pipeline expansion could triple the amount of crude oil coming into Port Metro Vancouver. Port Metro is already the busiest foreign-export terminal in North America.
That would increase the number of tankers moving through Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Westridge Marine Terminal from five a month to approximately 34. The goal of the expansion is to increase the markets for Canadian oil to Pacific Rim countries. At present, almost all Canadian oil heads to American ports. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers welcome this effort to ensure that Canada receives world prices for its oil.
Kinder Morgan Canada has applied to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline to increase capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Canada's vast oil sand resources will contribute diluted bitumen to the increased pipeline loads. KMC states that they have already signed up 13 new long-term contracts for this increased capacity. The pipeline is 1,150 km in length; the expansion would create a twinned pipeline requiring 994 km of new pipeline. The new line is expected to be completed by 2017, with construction beginning as early as 2015, once approval is granted. The Vancouver Observer included a map of the proposed expansion in a December, 2013 article which runs from Edmonton through Jasper National Park to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.
Environmental groups oppose the project due to the increased possibility that more tanker traffic will lead to more oil spills or leaks. KMC has 50 years of history loading at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Vancouver safely, but has included in its 15,000 page application increased safety measures to respond to these concerns. Included in the proposed expansion are three new berths at the Westridge Marine Terminal.
Other projects are also expected to increase traffic in the Salish Sea area: the Gateway Pacific coal-export terminal at Cherry Point, Washington (which could add 487+ cargo ships annually) and an expansion of the marine container facility at Deltaport, in Roberts Bank, Vancouver. At present 6,000 large vessels travel to Vancouver or Washington ports yearly.
Puget Sound authorities have said that with efficient vessel traffic management techniques, the additional traffic will not be a problem. AIS systems will be of utmost importance with this new tanker and cargo vessel traffic in light of the already busy fishing, recreational, ferry, and cruise ship traffic that exists in the Sound.