Feb 15 (Reuters) - Canadian regulator National Energy Board (NEB) on Thursday issued rulings that allow Kinder Morgan Canada to do additional construction work on an oil pipeline that is fiercely opposed by the province of British Columbia.
The board issued three decisions that collectively allow Kinder to start work in British Columbia on the Burnaby Mountain tunnel entrance of its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, subject to other government permits.
It lifted all remaining pre-construction conditions relating to the tunnel, and approved the pipeline's route where the tunnel will be built.
The decisions inch the Trans Mountain expansion closer to reality, however Kinder Morgan reiterated this week that it was holding off on starting full construction while it awaited further permits and court decisions. The NEB has approved just over half of the pipeline's route.
Tunnel construction will not disrupt the surface of Burnaby Mountain, and avoids construction through residential neighborhoods, Kinder Morgan Canada said in a statement.
The pipeline, running from Alberta's energy heartland to a port in metro Vancouver, British Columbia, is crucial for landlocked oil producers who receive deeply discounted prices from U.S. refineries because of transportation constraints.
British Columbia's left-leaning government opposes the pipeline, and has threatened to block additional oil shipments through the province as it studies how to clean up potential spills. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Sandra Maler)