CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion may be delayed if the country's energy regulator continues to bar it from installing anti-fish-spawning mats in construction areas, the company said late on Thursday.
The remarks, in a letter to the National Energy Board, mark a departure from the company's long-standing public stance that the project remained on track despite mounting opposition and regulatory hurdles.
While Kinder Morgan outlined political and regulatory risks to its expansion in a prospectus for the public offering of its Canadian unit in May, the company described them as "standard" language.
In Thursday's letter, a Kinder Morgan lawyer asked for relief from an order last week that the company stop installing such mats - work that the regulator said had "not yet been authorized."
The mats would prevent fish from being harmed by construction activity and were "key" to starting work.
If relief was not granted, some "installations may be delayed for a year, which would delay construction of the corresponding crossing by a full year, potentially impacting the project in-service date," the lawyer wrote.
The company did not say how far beyond the late 2019 date its plan to start shipping oil on the expanded line could be delayed.
The NEB and Kinder Morgan Canada, a unit of Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The expansion project aims to nearly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline from Canada's oil heartland of Alberta to the west coast.
The project faces opposition from environmental and aboriginal groups and the provincial government of British Columbia, through which the pipeline passes, though it has the backing of the energy sector. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)