At any given time in Strathcona County, you'll find the vibrant community buzzing with activity. Workers commute back and forth from job sites, settle in to unwind at local hotels and restaurants and dedicate their days to making the latest oil or natural gas project in the Central Alberta region a reality.
"The activity that's been happening here in Strathcona County has been really exciting," said Gerald Gabinet, Director Economic Development and Tourism, Strathcona County. "Currently we have over seven billion dollars' worth of projects planned, recently completed or under construction in the County."
For the past five years, TransCanada has worked in the growing community of Strathcona County on the 460-km (285-mile) Grand Rapids Pipeline. The development has culminated with achieving in-service and the pipeline began moving crude oil in late August 2017 for our customers from northwest Fort McMurray to the Heartland/Edmonton area.
In 2012, TransCanada and PetroChina Canada formed the Grand Rapids partnership to construct the Grand Rapids Pipeline to transport crude oil production from their oil sands project to the Edmonton, Alberta market. In early 2017, PetroChina Canada brought their production facility into operations making it the latest oil sands production facility to be developed in Alberta.
"We have come a long way in achieving great success for the Grand Rapids Pipeline in this challenging environment," said Dan Morrison, Business Development Manager for the Grand Rapids Pipeline. "This is the first new pipeline development in the West Athabasca region that can transport crude oil to market. Our partner is as proud as we are to have accomplished this major milestone on the first leg of a larger pipeline system."
From initial project meetings back in 2012 to countless hours of engagement with stakeholders, various community investment initiatives and nearly four years of ongoing construction activities, Gabinet said the county could not be more excited to see the Grand Rapids Pipeline come to fruition.
We agree. Completion of the Grand Rapids Pipeline is a significant milestone and marks TransCanada's latest major crude oil pipeline system to become operational in Canada since the Keystone Pipeline System began operations in 2010.
"This milestone marks the culmination of over five years of planning and consultation and over seven million hours of dedicated efforts by the project team, contractors and various stakeholders including landowners, Indigenous groups and communities along the route in order to make this project a reality," said Wendy West, project director for the Grand Rapids Pipeline Project. "We are thrilled to celebrate this important milestone, and are grateful to everyone who played a role in its success."
Once operational, energy infrastructure projects like the Grand Rapids Pipeline generate tax revenues for communities. These dollars contribute to municipalities' budgets and are often directed to local recreation facilities, infrastructure and services offered to residents that might not otherwise be made possible without a boost from energy operations.
"Another really good thing for us is the increase to the county's total tax assessment which happens when pipelines and their associated facilities are completed and operational," said Gabinet.
Building this latest pipeline and planning for decades of operations in Strathcona County has allowed us to work alongside some of the area's visionaries like Gabinet and gave us a chance to experience the fabric of this vibrant community firsthand.
As a community heavily involved in the energy industry, Strathcona County has done an excellent job instilling safety practices in their every day. That's why, for our Grand Rapids Pipeline team, receiving the 2016 Occupational Health and Safety Award from the Sherwood Park Chamber of Commerce was a significant honor. This award is given to companies who have demonstrated outstanding performance in workplace health and safety through employee training, work systems and a stellar record of safety.
"We've had a couple onsite visits to the Grand Rapids Pipeline that was going on in the community with the new tanks and the pipeline," said Gabinet. We were really struck by how serious TransCanada takes their safety program and their workers program. As soon as we arrived onsite they ensured that we had hard hats, safety vests and safety boots for our tour there going forward."
For every pipeline TransCanada builds and operates, safety and quality are the two key priorities. But we also thoughtfully consider environmental and societal outcomes as we determine the route, build the pipeline and operate it for generations. Delivering the energy North Americans use daily is something we've been proud to do safely and reliably for over 65 years.
The Grand Rapids Pipeline is now part of our elaborate and strategic network of safe, reliable energy transportation across the continent.
"The Grand Rapids Pipeline system will be able to move crude oil from both the established Athabasca producing region as well as the emerging developments west of the Athabasca River, making it an important piece of infrastructure to move energy to market from this growing oil-producing area," said West. "The pipeline will safely and reliably deliver crude oil that will end up fueling transportation and products to consumers across North America."
And even though the pipeline is now complete, our commitment to those communities doesn't stop there.
"We don't just drop into communities through construction and then disappear. TransCanada will be operating this pipeline through Strathcona County and other communities for generations. That's a responsibility we've always taken extremely seriously. We care about these communities as our neighbours, and as the places we live and work, too, adds West."
From the hundreds of stakeholders who provided valuable feedback, support and a great deal of patience throughout the various phases of the project, to the dedicated project team and contractors who spent countless hours designing, planning and constructing this project with safety being at the top of mind at all times – this pipeline is a testament to what can be accomplished when everyone works together.
We look forward to delivering the energy people rely on every day through the Grand Rapids Pipeline for decades to come.
READ MORE | Everyday objects made with oil
READ MORE | TransCanada Asset map
READ MORE | Serving up the most important meal of the day