British Columbia restrictions on new tar sands shipments a warning signal to Kinder Morgan pipeline investors

January 30, 2018

B.C. is restricting any increase in tar sands crude oil shipments by pipeline or rail while a panel studies the scientific uncertainties around tar sands oil spill cleanup.

Vancouver, B.C. — Today, British Columbia’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman announced restrictions on any increase in shipments of heavy oil — including tar sands crude — by pipeline or rail through B.C. while a scientific panel appointed by the province conducts a review of the scientific uncertainties around tar sands oil spill cleanup.

“Today’s announcement by British Columbia officials of plans to restrict new shipments of tar sands crude oil is a major setback for Kinder Morgan’s pipeline,” said Sven Biggs, Energy and Climate Campaigner for “It means that even if Kinder Morgan does manage to build the project, the company may never be able to ship a single barrel of tar sands crude.”

Kinder Morgan plans to use the new Trans Mountain Pipeline to ship a form of tar sands crude oil, which the industry calls diluted bitumen, or dilbit. This new form of oil is much more difficult to clean up than conventional crude oil — studies have shown dilbit sinks when spilled into fresh water, which is exactly what happened during a dilbit spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. Dilbit also presents new challenges for first responders and cleanup crews because the chemicals used to dilute the bitumen to a liquid state so it can be pumped through pipelines are extremely toxic and when spilled, evaporate into a poisonous cloud.

“If I was an investor in Kinder Morgan, I would be on the phone with a broker right now,” said Biggs. “This announcement is more than just another setback for Kinder Morgan. In the short term, these new restrictions mean the pipeline cannot go into operation. In the long term, the outcome of the review has the potential to become a permanent roadblock, showing there is no effective way to clean up this extremely dangerous form of oil.” 

Media contact: Sven Biggs, Energy and Climate Campaigner,, 778-882-8354,