The province of British Columbia has filed an application to take part in the public hearings into Calgary-based Kinder Morgan's proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

Under an agreement signed with the federal government, the province will not conduct its own review of the project but let the federal decision stand for B.C.'s assessment as well.

As an intervener, the province is on the same footing as First Nations, environmental and business groups that, under new federal rules, can prove they have a direct interest in the project.

Environment Minister Mary Polak says it will allow the province to ensure the project meets the highest standards of environmental protection and protects British Columbians from financial and environmental risk.

The Liberal government was soundly criticized for a similar agreement for the review of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Though lawyers for B.C. told a joint federal review panel that the provincial government did not support that project as proposed, the federal panel recommended approval.

Kinder Morgan is seeking to triple its capacity to ship crude oil between Strathcona County, near Edmonton, and Burnaby, B.C.

If approved, work on the $5.4 billion project to revamp the 1,150-kilometre, 60-year-old pipeline could be complete by late 2017.

With files from CBC News