3349 days in the making: TransCanada finally gets all approvals in place for Keystone XL

3349 days in the making: TransCanada finally gets all approvals in place for Keystone XL

Nebraska's Public Service Commission (PSC) has voted 3-2 in favour of approving Keystone XL through its state. The approval applies to the Alternative Mainline Route and not the shorter Preferred Route. The two commissioners that voted against the pipeline expressed concerns that the Alternative Mainline Route was not thoroughly scrutinized, accusing TransCanada of prioritizing pipe length over environmental considerations and landowner rights.

TransCanada maintains that the Preferred Route crosses the least amount of land while still avoiding several environmentally sensitive areas.

The PSC emphasized in its ruling that this decision is strictly in reference to whether construction of the pipeline "is in the public interest of Nebraska and the nation to meet the increasing need for energy."

Nebraska estimates the state will generate US$200 million in tax revenues from construction and Keystone XL's first 15 years of operation.

Environmental risks were not to be considered since Keystone XL already has federal environmental permits from both Canadian and US regulators. The project already has state-level permits from both South Dakota and Montana. 

Keystone XL is the fourth phase of TransCanada's Keystone network. The original 590,000 bbl/day Keystone pipeline was completed in 2010, running from Hardisty, Alberta to Nebraska and the Midwest. A phase 2 expansion came online in 2011, extending the line from Nebraska to the Cushing storage hub in Oklahoma. A third phase added a connection from Cushing to the Gulf Coast in January of 2014. 

TransCanada submitted its first application for Keystone XL in September of 2008. The original route traversed a substantial portion of Nebraska's environmentally-sensitive Sandhills region. After being rejected by President Obama in early 2012, TransCanada filed for a new Presidential Permit several months later, with various alternative routes that avoided the Sandhills and other ecologically-sensitive areas.

Keystone XL is designed to transport 830,000 bbl/day of crude from Alberta and North Dakota into the Gulf Coast for refining and export. About 12% of the line's capacity (100,000 bbl/day) is reserved for light Bakken crude from North Dakota.

TransCanada says it is evaluating the cost and schedule impact of the  Alternative Mainline Route, which is several kilometres longer than the Preferred Route. The company has yet to make a final investment decision on the project.


SOURCES:
NEBRASKA PSC • ROUTE APPROVAL OF THE KEYSTONE XL PROJECT • NOV 20, 2017
NEBRASKA PSC • KEYSTONE PIPELINE ROUTES
US DEP'T OF STATE • KEYSTONE XL: RECORD OF DECISION AND NATIONAL INTEREST DETERMINATION • MAR 23, 2017
US DEP'T OF STATE • FINAL SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR KEYSTONE XL • JAN 2014
TRANSCANADA • KEYSTONE XL: PROPOSED ROUTE
TRANSCANADA • TRANSCANADA EVALUATING NEBRASKA PSC DECISION ON KEYSTONE XL • NOV 20, 2017
WIKIPEDIA • KEYSTONE PIPELINE
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