The Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Safety

Shipping Canadian Oil is Safe


Over the past few decades, many myths have circulated about the safety of shipping oil on Canada’s coast. Canada’s Energy Citizens spent time with some of the people working hard to protect Canada’s waters and make sure that layers of safety are in place to maintain and continue the record of 65 years of shipping oil from Vancouver Harbour with 0 incidents with oil tankers.

How do tankers enter our waters safely?

There are many added layers of safety that ensure that oil tankers make it safely from the open ocean to the loading terminal.

  1. Well built, well equipped and well-maintained vessel
  2. Well-trained crew on that vessel
  3. Cargo ships over 350 tons will have one pilot on board. Oil tankers have 2.
  4. Oil tankers have a requirement of 3 tugboats per tanker, more than is required of any other vessel.

Learn more about the extra layers of safety that have been put in place to ensure oil is shipped safely.

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How much experience do the people guiding these tankers into our waters have?


Coastal pilots are experts in navigating large vessels through Canadian waters. Many pilots grew up in coastal B.C. and have years of local experience, specialized training and must pass the marine pilot exam. By the time they write the exam they often have over 10 years of experience as a Master Mariner. They also bring Personal Pilot Units (PPUs) on board every tanker to provide up-to-the minute info on marine tides, weather, hazards, and traffic. Coastal pilots have a safety record of 99.9%.

Meet some of the expert mariners responsible for protecting our waters and see them in action boarding moving vessels off the coast of Victoria.

What happens if there is a spill?


In the remote chance that oil does spill, actions have been taken by the government and TMX project to ensure there is a stronger response than ever along B.C. coastline. This means increased funding to cut down marine response times by 2/3 or more and doubling resources available for spill response.  Two new escort vessels for every oil tanker out of Canadian waters. First Nations and coastal communities have been actively engaged in spill prevention and response that has led to 8 new spill response bases and 44 new vessels.


Find out how organizations like West Coast Marine Spill Response (WCMRC) have led the way on world class emergency preparedness.

Why do we need to ship Canadian oil at all?


Exporting Canadian energy is one of the best ways to support our economy, by seeking a fair price for our resources in markets abroad we strengthen the Canadian economy. In addition, continuous improvement on emissions reduction associated with oil sands production, and Canada’s West Coast being closer to Asia-Pacific markets than any other North American source of heavy oil, mean we can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from marine transport. These benefits aren’t just international. In fact, every oil tanker from the Trans Mountain Expansion project (TMX) equals about $350,000 for local Vancouver economy.

Hear from some of the people working to expand our shipping capacity through the construction of the TMX project.