Valero, Chevron Tap Trans Mountain Pipeline for West Coast Crude

Valero Energy Corp. and Chevron Corp. have entered the fray of buyers for oil traversing Canada’s expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline system, signaling a potential shift in the West Coast’s oil-sourcing landscape.

Anonymous Bloomberg sources revealed on Friday that these refineries in California are set to receive cargoes of Cold Lake crude, a heavy grade from Canada’s oil sands, loaded onto Aframax tankers out of the Westridge Terminal near Vancouver last June. This development marks the first sales off the expanded pipeline to Western US refiners, following earlier transactions with Asian buyers Sinopec Group and Sinochem Group.

The expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline, slated to commence commercial operations on May 1, has faced a litany of hurdles, including construction delays, cost overruns, and regulatory challenges. Despite yet-to-be-obtained approvals from the Canadian Energy Regulator, the pipeline’s capacity is set to nearly triple to 890,000 bpd, catering to a growing demand for oil transport from Alberta to Canada’s Pacific Coast. This expansion, originally valued at $33 billion, ballooned to $53 billion, reflecting the complexities and uncertainties of large-scale energy infrastructure projects.

While the pipeline expansion promises to open up international markets for Canadian oil producers, tensions have simmered between environmentalists and stakeholders advocating for increased pipeline capacity. The project’s approval sparked protests and political divisions, ultimately prompting the Canadian federal government’s intervention to ensure its realization. However, analysts caution that despite the expanded capacity, rising oil production, particularly from the oil sands, may swiftly fill the available pipeline space, underscoring ongoing challenges in balancing energy demand, environmental concerns, and market dynamics.

Back in February, when Trans Mountain first began filling the expanded pipeline, Canadian crude oil prices jumped to the narrowest discount to WTI since August 2023, eating into what once was cheap Canadian crude oil for U.S. refiners.

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