|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - April 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Canadian company seeks permits for pipeline to Gulf
Polk County Enterprise - April 2009
FAITH, SOUTH DAKOTA – Public scoping meetings were to be held Wednesday night in Faith and Buffalo, South Dakota, for a proposed international pipeline to carry Canadian oil to U.S. markets in the Gulf Coast area. If completed as planned, the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline would eventually go through Polk County, and would have a pumping station near Corrigan to give the crude oil a push. TransCanada, the Canadian oil company heading up this project, currently has a pipeline in place to ferry crude oil from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to refi neries in the U.S. but this new project would provide direct access to existing world markets in Houston and Port Arthur. Canada is home to a vast reserve of oil-sands that were once considered too expensive to refi ne. With the jump in the price of crude oil of late, coupled with technological enhancements, it has become more economically feasible to harvest this bitumen and turn it into synthetic crude oil to be sold on the world market. The Alberta oil-sands, an area of land roughly the size of England, has only recently been fi gured into the world-oil supply and because of these new calculations, Canada is now ranked No. 2 in the world in proven oil reserves behind only Saudi Arabia.
The quality of the oil is not quite the same as the light-sweet crude oil produced in Saudi Arabia, however; bitumen is considered to be a heavy oil. TransCanada seeks to take advantage of this new viability in bitumen refi nement by building a pipeline directly from its oil fi elds in Canada to the global shipping lanes via Houston and Port Arthur. The proposed pipeline will be completed in two phases. The northern part of the project will provide a more direct push between Hardisty, Alberta, Canada and Steele City, Nebraska. From there it will follow an existing pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma. The southern phase of the project, if approved and completed, would carry the oil down to the Gulf. Since the northern phase of the project links two cities that are already connected by a pipeline, there are no significant hurdles to get over. It is simply a more direct route for the benefit of the overall project. However, the southern part of the project will require a presidential approval since it allows a product not produced in the U.S. to be sold in its markets. An environmental impact report must be prepared before approval can be given.
“We are relatively early in the approval process,” TransCanada spokesman Jim Prescott said. “It will be the better part of next year before we can move forward with this.” The first draft for the environmental impact study has yet to be completed and there will be at least two drafts written before approval is given. “We are looking at the second quarter of 2010,” Prescott said regarding the expected conclusion of the presidential approval process. The timeline for completing the trans-continental pipeline may be unclear but one thing that is certain, though: Canada’s oil production capabilities are definitely on the rise. The Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is funded by Congress, has estimated Canada’s production level to be as much as 4.2 to 4.4 million barrels per day by the year 2030. If Canada were to maintain that level of output, its supply would last roughly 200 years and place it neatly among the top producers in the world. Access to global markets will be crucial, thus the need for a more direct and cost-effective means of transporting crude oil from the Alberta Oil Sands to the refineries around the Gulf of Mexico. What impact this will have on stabilization of the global oil market is unclear this early on.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on its website, “the price of crude oil, the raw material from which petroleum products are made, is established by the supply and demand conditions in the global market overall, and more particularly, in the main refining centers: Singapore, Northwest Europe, and the U.S. Gulf Coast.” Having a steady supply from such a large and proven reserve can only benefit the production reliability of the Gulf Coast refineries. That reliability may just be the keystone that will allow North America to become less dependent on foreign oil and ultimately immune to market-price fluctuations. According to the EIA the focus for the Texas Gulf Coast is “not like the East Coast’s, on products that can be supplied directly to the consumer, but on refinery feedstocks and blendstocks, to support its role as the main U.S. refining and petrochemical center.
That role, plus the need for all the Midwest’s non-Canadian crude imports to move through the Gulf Coast’s ports and pipelines, has also led to the Gulf Coast being by far the most important crude oil importing region in the United States, accounting for nearly twothirds of the total.” More information on the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project can be found at this website: http://www.keystonepipeline- XL.state.gov and http://www. transcanada.com/keystone/kxl. html Learn the warning signs of a stroke: Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body. • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding. • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes. •Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. • Sudden severe headache with no known case. If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs Immediately call 9-1-1. Check the time so you’ll know when symptoms first appears. Doctors have 3 hours to administer a clot-busting drug that can reduce disability. Get Ready to Relay visit www.polkcountyrelay. org to register your team American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life May 1-