A total of 22 oil tankers are scheduled to load this month in Vancouver with crude from the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline, which is currently running around 80% full, with a “little bit” of spot capacity also being used, said a Trans Mountain executive. It has been six weeks since the huge C$34.2bn ($24.94bn) project started commercial operations.

Speaking to Reuters on Wednesday, Trans Mountain’s chief financial and strategy officer Mark Maki said that so far, the system is operating as expected and final costs for the expansion are not expected to rise significantly.

Pipeline capacity from Alberta to Canada’s Pacific Coast has tripled to 890,000 barrels per day (bpd) since of the commencement of the enlarged pipeline’s commercial operation on 1 May.

Some 707,000bpd, or 80% of the pipeline’s capacity, is reserved for long-term contracted shippers and the remaining 20% is available for spot barrels.

Maki said: “We are basically running at effectively right around contract level with a little bit of spot on the system.”

He added that volumes are expected to rise towards winter and that 22 tankers are scheduled to load Westbridge dock at the end of the pipeline in the Port of Vancouver in June.

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“The dock facility is working as we had expected. There are a few things of course you have got to break in and get running right, but we are happy with where we are at,” Maki said.

The Trans Mountain pipeline initially commenced commercial operation in 1953, according to Offshore Technology’s parent company, GlobalData.

The pipeline expansion is designed to carry heavier oils as well as light crude oils. It comprises 980km of 36in and 42in-diameter pipes.

Almost three-quarters of the route utilises the existing right-of-way, while 16% follows other linear infrastructure such as telecommunications, hydropower or highways. The remaining 11% traverses a new right-of-way.

The expansion also involved the construction of three additional offloading berths at the Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby to help tankers to load.