When the Trans Mountain pipeline expands from
300,000 b/d to 890,000 b/d at full capacity, along with crude oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast it also will carry the hopes of many in the industry that Albertan heavy crude will finally earn an Asian market premium, having broken free of North American pricing. However, the biggest vessels that the oil terminal port of Burnaby, near Vancouver, can handle are Aframax carriers. These are not cost-competitive on the open seas against the Middle Eastern suppliers’ ULCCs and VLCCs. So Albertan producers will have to absorb that transport cost or find another market, such as California.
Between 2005 and 2013, crude oil tankers accounted for 1.5 percent of all foreign vessel traffic in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, amounting to approximately 48 crude oil tankers in Port Metro Vancouver annually.