(Bloomberg) -- An expansion of Canada’s only oil pipeline connecting Alberta to the Pacific coast won regulator approval to alter a section of the route, putting the project back on track for completion by early next year. 

The Canada Energy Regular approved the company’s proposal to replace a tunneling project along a roughly 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) section of the line with a cheaper but more intrusive ditch. The change would affect the traditional territory of the local Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation, which has said the ditch would do “irreparable harm” to its cultural and spiritual rights. Trans Mountain was facing a delay of as long as nine-months had the CER not approved the change.

The Trans Mountain expansion has already faced repeated delays since the project was announced more than a decade ago, causing the price tag to more than quadruple to C$30.9 billion ($23 billion). The expansion — which would more than triple the volume of crude Alberta’s producers can pipe to the West Coast to 890,000 barrels a day — is due to start operations by the end of the first quarter of next year, the company has said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government bought the project from Kinder Morgan Inc. in 2018 after the company threatened to pull the plug on it amid fierce opposition in British Columbia. 

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