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West Coast Transmission

The origins of Westcoast Transmission began with its flamboyant founder, Frank McMahon. He first founded the Atlantic Oil company in 1945 and gained the rights to a section of the Leduc Oil field. The well Atlantic No. 3 was drilled and hit oil in 1948. With this find, McMahon and his company were propelled into the world of the rich oilmen. A year after the find in Leduc, McMahon successfully incorporated the new company Westcoast Transmission Company Ltd. Westcoast expanded to British Columbia and built the province's first gas processing plant at Taylor, BC. They also received approval to begin Canada's first "big-inch" pipeline. The term "big inch" refers to a pipe that is between twenty and forty-eight inches in diameter. The construction of Canada's first "big-inch" pipeline began in 1955, and it started operating in 1957. The article, “Westcoast Energy Celebrates 40th Anniversary—Has Become a Major British Columbia Success Story," relates the triumph of the company and the provincial government on 8 October 1957:

"...Premier W.A.C. Bennett and Frank McMahon, gathered in the Hotel Vancouver to mark the first deliveries of cost efficient, safe, reliable, and clean burning natural gas. Today, Westcoast is British Columbia's largest natural gas transmission and energy services corporation and a major player in the North American energy industry."

In 1964, Westcoast Transmission constructed another processing plant at Fort Nelson with an additional 402 kilometre mainline to new discoveries in northern British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, and Northwest Territories. The distribution of natural gas to provide supplies to the growing residential and industrial markets located in west-central British Columbia by Pacific Northern Gas began in 1968.

Foothills Pipe Lines was established by Westcoast in 1974 to build and operate the Canadian sections of the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System. The first phase of the Western and Eastern sections of the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System was completed in 1981, and it provided 1.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day. Westcoast Energy purchased Inter-City Gas that was renamed Centra Gas in 1990, which brought an increased reach into markets on Vancouver Island, some regions in Alberta, Manitoba, and northwest Ontario. With the use of some of the world's deepest underwater pipeline Westcoast Energy began delivering natural gas to Vancouver Island in 1991.


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