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Pipelines in Canada

Existing Tar sands pipelines in Canada :

There are a number of existing Tar sands pipelines, among those are :

  • Kinder Morgan, Trans Mountain’s existing pipeline (going west) There is also  a proposal to add a second pipeline along this route

  • Express Pipeline Ltd (going south)

  • TransCanada Keystone (going south). TransCanada also proposed a separate Keystone XL pipeline, but the Obama administration rejected it.

  • Enbridge pipeline system (going south and east). This includes the Enbridge Line9B and the proposed Enbridge Line 3 Replacement program

pipelines routes

Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Program (Canada)

The largest project in Enbridge history, the Line 3 replacement proposes to replace all remaining segments of Line 3 from Alberta to Wisconsin. The new pipeline would increase the amount of oil transported from the current 390,000 barrels per day to 760,000 barrels per day.

Enbridge Line 9B

In the fall of 2012, Enbridge filed an application with the National Energy Board (NEB) to reverse the direction and increase the flow by 25% of its Line 9B. The pipeline, built in 1976, carries 300,000 barrels per day from North Westover, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. Regulations were changed to allow the line to carry heavy crude, including tar sands bitumen.


From its starting point in Sarnia, Ontario, the pipeline threatens numerous water bodies including Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, the Ottawa River, Rivière des Mille -Îles River Prairie. The possibility of spills threatens the drinking water of up to two million people in the greater Montreal region.

Approximately 50 municipalities in Quebec and the northeastern United States have already adopted resolutions to protect their drinking water.

While some of the tar sands crude oil is refined at Suncor’s Montreal refinery, some is sent to Levis’ refinery by boat from Montreal. It could eventually be piped to Portland, Maine for shipping overseas or sent to Saint John, New Brunswick.

Using data from Enbridge's own reports, the Polaris Institute calculated that 804 spills occurred on Enbridge pipelines between 1999 and 2010. These spills released approximately 161,475 barrels of crude oil into the environment. 

Pipeline projects:

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain - in BC

The pipeline company Kinder Morgan is proposing to build a new 1,150 km pipeline alongside its existing Transmountain pipeline between Strathcona County (near Edmonton), Alberta and Burnaby, BC. The new pipeline would increase the amount of crude oil carried from the current 300,000 barrels per day, to 890,000 barrels per day.

More information about Kinder Morgan.

Energy East  - in QC

TransCanada Corp wants to convert an existing gas pipeline to bring tar sands crude to Cornwall, Ontario and build a new one from Cornwall to Montreal, Levis and St. John, New Brunswick to export tar sands oil. At 1.1 million barrels per day capacity, it would be the largest of all the tar sands pipelines and a threat to the environment, local communities and the world’s climate.

More information about Energy East.

Northern Gateway

The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is a proposal to construct twin pipelines 1,177 km in length, from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, British Columbia. The westbound length would export diluted bitumen from the tar sands to a newly-constructed terminal in Kitimat, for transport by oil tankers to Asia.  The eastbound portion would bring natural gas condensate from the B.C. coast to Alberta to be used to dilute the tar sands crude.

Enbridge's proposed $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline aims to connect Canada's tar sands to its west coast, which will provide access to the Pacific Rim's international markets and higher profits for oil companies. Currently, nearly all of Canada's petroleum is exported to the United States, which means that the prices tar sands producers get are largely determined by what United States refiners are willing to pay.

The Northern Gateway pipeline has been heavily criticized by First Nations and environmental groups who fear catastrophic damage to land and waterways and the threat posed to the Great Bear Rainforest – the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. Since the proposed pipeline route crosses through the traditional territory of many First Nations - most of which say they were not properly consulted about the proposal - a number of legal challenges have already been launched.

Terminal facilities would need to be built in Kitimat to accommodate loading and unloading of oil and condensate tankers, along with marine transportation of oil and condensate by supertankers. The project is proposed by Enbridge Inc., a Canadian crude oil and liquids pipeline company.

Even Enbridge admits that the pipeline and terminal would provide just 104 permanent operating positions for the company and 113 positions with the associated marine services. First Nations groups, environmentalists and tourism operators are among those who say the project is far too risky due to the environmental, economic and social risks posed by the pipeline.

Native groups like the Yinka Dene Alliance have organized to campaign against the project. In December 2010, 66 First Nations bands in British Columbia, including many along the proposed pipeline route, signed the Save The Fraser Declaration to oppose the project. More than 70 more First Nations have signed up in support since that time.

Northern Gateway is also strongly opposed by numerous other organizations, ranging from environmental groups to local governments who say the risks – from worsening climate change to threatening endangered species – are far too great.

The pipeline was approved by the Harper government, but that approval was overturned by the Federal Court of Appeals due to inadequate consultation with affected First Nations.



The latest updates


In the Pipeline: Risks for Funders of Tar Sands Pipelines

Publication | October 30, 2017 at 20:07

Three major new tar sands pipeline projects are proposed: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion, TransCanada’s Keystone XL and Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion.

#NotPipelines Action Toolkit

Publication | September 22, 2017 at 15:30

This toolkit contains five actions you can take in solidarity with Indigenous Land Defenders who are rising up to confront toxic tar sands pipelines.

STATEMENT - Today's BC NDP-Greens announcement an "exciting opportunity"

Publication | May 30, 2017 at 17:16

30 May 2017 (VICTORIA) - In response to the announcement of the details of the NDP-Green party agreement in British Columbia, the Head of Greenpeace Canada’s Oil Campaign Jessica Wilson said:

US States with Oil and Gas Emissions Rules Cover More Production than ECCC Rules

Publication | March 1, 2017 at 9:00

March 2017 backgrounder on methane regulation coverage prepared for Greenpeace Canada by experts at Environmental Defence Fund.

Tar Sands in the Atlantic: TransCanada’s Proposed Energy East Pipeline

Publication | July 26, 2016 at 11:50

A new report released today by the US - based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in partnership with numerous Canadian and U.S. groups, shows the proposed Energy East pipeline would drive a 300 to 500 per cent increase in crude tanker...

Audrey Siegl on board Inflatable Launched towards Shell - Pacific Coast of Canada

Image | June 17, 2015 at 11:49

Greenpeace inflatables, with First Nations activist Audrey Siegl on board, now directly in front of Shell drill vessel

Inflatables Launched Towards Shell - Pacific Coast of Canada

Image | June 17, 2015 at 11:45

Greenpeace inflatables, with First Nations activist Audrey Siegl on board, now directly in front of Shell drill vessel

Stop Shell

Image | June 13, 2015 at 18:00

A beach-side celebration of our beautiful coastline that took place on June 13, with live music, incredible participatory art, and fun games and activities! Toast the Coast and send a message to Stephen Harper that people — not oil — belong on...

Toast The Coast

Image gallery | June 11, 2015

Act On Climate March

Image | April 11, 2015 at 16:19

Over 25,000 citizens marched in Quebec City on April 11, 2015 calling on Premiers and the Federal Government to Act on Climate. Photo credit: © Greenpeace/Robert van Waarden

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