TransCanada agrees to reroute Keystone XL around sensitive areas

Energy Environment Politics

TransCanada Corporation announced Monday that it will reroute the controversial bitumen pipeline around environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.

At a news conference, in the state capital, Lincoln and in a news release, posted on its website, the company said that it supports proposed Nebraska state legislation that would ensure a pipeline route will be developed in Nebraska that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada president for Energy and Oil Pipelines said, “”I am pleased to tell you that the positive conversations we have had with Nebraska leaders have resulted in legislation that respects the concerns of Nebraskans and supports the development of the Keystone XL pipeline…I can confirm the route will be changed and Nebraskans will play an important role in determining the final route.”

The company says it will work with the US State Department and Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality will conduct an environmental assessment to define the best location for Keystone XL in Nebraska. “We will cooperate with these agencies and provide them with the information they need to complete a thorough review that addresses concerns regarding the Sandhills region.”

TransCanada said.

The decision comes just four days after last Thursday’s decision by the State Department to postpone consideration of the pipeline project to allow the agency to look at alternative routes.

The 2013 decision date would also avoid the US presidential election cycle which is beginning to ramp up at this time.

In the news release,

TransCanada emphasized the safety measures it is taking on the project.

Construction of the pipeline in Nebraska would consist of five or six new pump stations and over 275 miles of new pipeline. The project is expected to employ over 2,200 construction workers in the state.

Keystone XL will be safe, built with high strength steel and with the highest safety standards of any pipeline in North America. 21,000 sensors monitor the length of the pipeline by satellite 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with data refreshed every five seconds. If there is a problem, automatic shut-off valves can be activated in minutes – shutting off the flow of oil.

“The U.S. Department of State announced last Thursday that further assessment of alternative routes for Keystone XL was needed in Nebraska to move forward with the National Interest Determination. Today’s proposed legislation is a critical step in making this happen,” Pourbaix added. “The safe and reliable operation of our pipelines and all of our infrastructure has been TransCanada’s priority for 60 years. This commitment will continue to guide us toward a positive outcome in Nebraska.”

The pipeline would carry bitumen from the Alberta bitumen sands to refineries in Texas.

Keystone “too important not to proceed” TransCanada CEO says

Energy Environment Politics

622-tc_logo-thumb-110x27-621.jpgThe CEO of TransCanada,  Russ Girling, reacting to news that the US State Dept. has delayed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline said Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, “This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed.”

While Girling also said, “”We remain confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved,” but the news release from TransCanada also acknowledged:

… while Keystone XL remains the best option for American and Canadian producers to get their oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast, today’s announcement by the DOS could have potential negative ramifications, especially where shippers and U.S. refiners are concerned.

“Supplies of heavy crude from Venezuela and Mexico to U.S. refineries will soon end,” said Girling. “If Keystone XL is continually delayed, these refiners may have to look for other ways of getting the oil they need. Oil sands producers face the same dilemma – how to get their crude oil to the Gulf Coast.”

In the release, TransCanada says the company will be discussing its next steps with the U.S. Department of State after it said further analysis of route options for the Keystone XL pipeline need to be investigated, with a specific focus on the Sandhills in Nebraska.

TransCanada said the company has already studied 14 different routes for Keystone XL, eight in Nebraska. The earlier studies included one potential alternative route in Nebraska that would have avoided the entire Sandhills region and Ogallala aquifer and six alternatives that would have reduced pipeline mileage crossing the Sandhills or the aquifer. TransCanada said the company hopes this work will serve as a starting point for the additional review and help expedite the review process.

“If Keystone XL dies, Americans will still wake up the next morning and continue to import 10 million barrels of oil from repressive nations, without the benefit of thousands of jobs and long term energy security,” concluded Girling. “That would be a tragedy.”

TransCanada said it has held more than 100 open houses and public meetings in six states since 2008, The company said thousands of pages of supplemental information and responses to questions were submitted to state and federal agencies. The State Department received over 300,000 comments on the project.