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Keystone XL Fork in the Road: TransCanada’s Houston Lateral Pipeline
Only Barack Obama knows the fate of the northern half of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But in the meantime, TransCanada is preparing thesouthern half of the line to open forcommercial operations on January 22.
Yet, there’s a fork in this controversial pipeline system that has largely flown under the radar: TransCanada’s Houston Lateral Pipeline, which serves as a literal fork in the road of the southern half of Keystone XL’s route to Gulf Coast refineries.
Rebranded the “Gulf Coast Pipeline” by TransCanada, the 485-mile southern half of Keystone XL brings a blend of Alberta’s tar sands crude, along with oil obtained viahydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin, to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas. This area has been coined a “sacrifice zone” by investigative journalist Ted Genoways, describing the impacts on local communities as the tar sands crude is refined mainly for export markets.
But not all tar sands and fracked oil roads lead to Port Arthur. That’s where the Houston Lateral comes into play. A pipeline oriented westward from Liberty County, TX rather than eastward to Port Arthur, Houston Lateral ushers crude oil toHouston’s refinery row.
“The 48-mile (77-kilometre) Houston Lateral Project is an additional project under development to transport oil to refineries in the Houston, TX marketplace,”TransCanada’s website explains. “Upon completion, the Gulf Coast Project and the Houston Lateral Project will become an integrated component of the Keystone Pipeline System.”
Image Credit: TransCanada
Boon for Houston’s Refinery Row
Houston’s LyondellBasell refinery is retooling itself for the looming feast of tar sands crude and fracked oil bounty that awaits from the Houston Lateral’s completion.
“The company is spending $50 million to nearly triple its capacity to run heavy Canadian crude at the Houston refinery, to 175,000 bpd from 60,000 bpd,”explained a March article in Reuters.
LyondellBasell admits TransCanada’s Houston Lateral project is a lifeline ensuring its Houston refinery remains a profitable asset.
“Over time, heavy Canadian oil is going to be extremely important to this refinery,” the company’s spokesman David Harpole said in a February interview withBloomberg. “It’s not all getting down there today but as time goes on, that will become more and more powerful to an asset like we have.”
But LyondellBasell’s not the only company with skin in the game. Valero — whose refining capacity is currently overflowing with fracked Eagle Ford shale oil — is also considering expanding its capacity to refine more tar sands crude.
Not “What If,” But “Right Now”
A financially lucrative asset to refining companies like LyondellBasell and Valero, Houston’s refineries are an issue of life or death for those living within the vicinity.
“In a December 2010 report, the Sierra Club linked tar sands refinery emissions to prenatal brain damage, asthma and emphysema,” a March Huffington Post article explained. “A recent Houston-area study found a 56 percent increased risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia among children living within two miles of the Houston Ship Channel, compared with children living more than 10 miles from the channel.”
Like Port Arthur, Houston — the headquarters for some of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world — is a major “sacrifice zone” for front-line communities, with many people suffering health impacts from the city’s four petrochemical refineries.
Photo Credit: Gulf Restoration Network
“Much of the debate around the Keystone XL pipeline has focused on the dangers of extracting and transporting the tar sands,” DeSmogBlog contributor Caroline Selle wrote in a May 2013 article. “Left out, however, are those in the United States who are guaranteed to feel the impacts of increased tar sands usage. Spill or no spill, anyone living near a tar sands refinery will bear the burden of the refining process.”
With Keystone XL’s southern half currently being injected with oil and with TransCanada counting down the weeks until it opens for commercial operations, those living in front-line refinery neighborhoods face a daunting “survival of the fittest” task ahead.
“With toxic chemical exposure nearly certain, it is unclear what the next step will be for residents [living in refinery neighborhoods],” Selle wrote in her May article. “[T]his is a life or death struggle more immediate than the ‘what-if’ of a pipeline spill. And it’s not a ‘what-if, [but rather] the fight is ‘right now.'”
Domestic U.S. oil production is expected to grow much faster than was thought just a few months ago, according to a new report from the U.S. federal government, placing an even larger question mark on the future of Canada’s oilsands.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s preliminary outlook for 2014 predicts U.S. oil imports next year will be one million barrels per day less than previously forecast.
By way of illustration, Alberta’s total oil exports to the U.S. were 1.3 million barrels per day in 2011.
“With growth in both oil and natural gas production, we see the U.S. moving closer toward self-sufficiency, and there are some very interesting economic and geopolitical implications to all that,” EIA head Adam Sieminski said at a briefing, as quoted at Inside Climate News.
One of those “geopolitical implications” could be that President Barack Obama feels less pressure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the news site reported.
The news comes as Keystone builder TransCanada prepares to start operating the southern leg of the pipeline, which runs from an oil terminal in Cushing, Okla., to Gulf Coast ports in Texas.
At the same time, Canada’s oil industry is facing another competitive threat: The opening up of Mexico’s state-controlled oil industry. Mexico’s Congress recently passed a bill allowing foreign investment in the oil industry, whose production has been controlled by state-run Pemex for decades. It’s expected new investment will boost Mexican oil production.
“Adding Mexico’s oil and gas resources to world markets, given the U.S.’s tight oil and gas and Canadian oil sands, could have dramatic implications in the medium and long term,” Barclays analyst Michael Cohen wrote in a note to clients quoted at the National Post.
Between booming oil production from unconventional domestic sources, the oilsands and now Mexican oil exports, the U.S. will be spoiled for choice when it comes to sources of oil in the coming years.
Canadian oil has been selling at a “discount” in the U.S. for years, sometimes trading for 30 per cent below U.S. crude oil prices. Keystone backers say the pipeline will fix that by giving Canadian oil access to new markets, but the EIA’s report makes that less certain.
If there’s a bright spot for Canadian oil exporters in this, it’s that the U.S.’s oil boom won’t last that long. The EIA forecasts that domestic production will start leveling off in 2016, and then start declining in 2020.
The share of oil and other liquid fuels that comes from imports will fall to 25 per cent in 2016, the EIA said, but will then start to climb, reaching 32 per cent by 2040.
But natural gas production will continue to climb for decades after that, and that — combined with greater fuel efficiency for cars — means the U.S. will continue to become less reliant, overall, on energy imports through 2040, the EIA said.
Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline were quick to seize on the report.
“We simply don’t need this tar sands pipeline,” Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defence Council — a major Keystone opponent — told Inside Climate News.
Shawn Howard, a spokesman for Keystone builder TransCanada, begged to differ.
“Our customers have signed long-term commercial contracts because they understand the need for the oil that Keystone XL will bring to U.S. refineries,” he said. “We have a waiting list of customers interested in securing capacity on Keystone XL if it becomes available.”
Not all Keystone XL customers feel this way anymore. Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources, which signed up to use the Keystone XL, said this week the pipeline is no longer needed.
But Continental Resources is betting that oil-by-rail, rather than pipelines, will be the solution going forward. Many observers have argued, in the wake of the Lac-Megantic disaster, that pipelines are a safer option than rail for transporting oil.
OTTAWA – Heavy lobbying by the oil and gas industry has far outstripped any other interest group seeking to influence the Harper government over the last four years, according to a new study that examined the lobbyist registry.
The left-leaning Polaris Institute contends that the more than 2,700 meetings between oil and gas lobbyists and federal office holders since 2008 have helped turn Canada into a “petro state.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been promoting Canada as an emerging “energy super power” since coming to office in 2006.
And in the last 18 months, pipeline politics have become an Ottawa preoccupation as major public policy debates erupted in both Canada and the United States over the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline to the Gulf Coast and Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, B.C.
Research by the Polaris Institute suggests that industry lobbying efforts have been gaining steam in lock step.
Using the federal lobbyist registry to track meetings, the study shows that since 2008 oil and gas interests dwarfed contact by other major industry groups, including the mining industry, car makers and the forestry industry.
The 734 contacts by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association almost doubled the 412 communications by two major mining associations, and almost tripled the 245 contacts by the major forest industry groups. Two groups representing auto manufacturers had 157 recorded contacts over the same four-year period.
A spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver made no apologies for meeting with industry lobbyists.
“The minister considers it appropriate to meet with a variety of groups, including those from industry, to keep himself informed on issues related to his ministerial responsibilities,” Chris McCluskey said in an email.
Those lobbying efforts redoubled last year. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) had 190 contacts with government officials in 2011, up from 86 in 2010.
“This rapid increase in officially recorded lobbying by CAPP coincides with a major public relations push in print, television and online advertising designed to counter increasing opposition to the tar sands,” says the Polaris report.
In addition to industry advertising, this fall the Conservative government also launched a major television ad campaign, with a budget of $9 million, to pitch Canadians on “responsible resource development.”
Since achieving a majority in the May 2011 election, the Conservative government has been rewriting or repealing laws governing environmental assessments, navigable waterways and other measures it says are an impediment to major resource developments.
The Polaris study contends oil industry lobbyists are behind the policy changes.
“The amount of face time the oil industry gets in Ottawa in personal meetings and other correspondence greatly exceeds the time afforded other major industries in Canada,” Daniel Cayley-Daoust, one of the report’s authors, said in a release.
“No one doubts the hold the oil industry has on this current government, but it is important Canadians are aware that such a high rate of lobbying to federal ministers has strong policy implications.”
The study claims environmental groups have been all but shut out by the Conservative government, judging by lobbyist registry contacts.
That’s not true, said McCluskey, who noted his minister met last week with a coalition of environmental groups representing five different organizations.
He said the Polaris study is based solely on meetings that are reported to the commissioner of lobbying.
“While industry associations report their meetings to the commissioner, in many cases environmental groups do not,” said the government spokesman.
“The minister will continue to assess invitations to meet environmental groups and the natural resources industry — which directly employs 800,000 Canadians and indirectly employs 800,000 more.”
By Patrick Rucker and Nia Williams
WASHINGTON/CALGARY (Reuters) – Canada is running out of time to offer U.S. President Barack Obama a climate change concession that might clinch the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, as the country’s energy industry continues to resist costly curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.
Two years of negotiations between the Canadian government and the energy sector to curtail carbon pollution have not produced an agreement. Oil producers have balked at anything more than the 10-cents-a-barrel carbon tax imposed by the province of Alberta.
Late last month, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq pointed to “good progress” in the talks but was unable to say when a resolution might come.
Concessions from Canada would make the pipeline more palatable in Washington, experts say, since Obama has made fighting climate change a second-term priority and has said that Canada could do more to reduce carbon emissions.
By linking Alberta’s fields to refiners in the Gulf Coast, the 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) Keystone XL pipeline would be a boon to an energy patch where oil sands are abundant but lead to more carbon pollution than many other forms of crude.
Keystone’s foes say that burning fossil fuels to wrench oil sands crude from the ground will worsen climate change, and that the $5.4 billion pipeline, which could carry up to 830,000 barrels a day, would only spur more production.
Increasing oil sands production will put Canada on track to miss its target of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, according to a government report (full report:tinyurl.com/mgkghtc).
Keystone supporters say that is why Canada would be wise to offer a carbon-trimming plan before the White House decides the pipeline’s fate.
“If Canada were to volunteer new greenhouse gas restrictions, that would certainly help,” David Goldwyn, a former State Department official and energy consultant, told an industry conference in late October.
But the clock is running out. The U.S. State Department is finishing work on a report that will weigh the climate impacts of the pipeline in what could be one of last words before a decision. The White House is expected to rule on Keystone by next spring.
Canada and the United States have often moved together on climate policy, developing similar rules on auto and power-plant emissions while turning their backs on the Kyoto Protocol to limit climate change.
Regulating the oil and gas sector has been thornier, though, with oil sands producers particularly concerned that higher costs will erode their already narrow margins.
“Anything more stringent than today’s system will increase costs, possibly lowering investments and reducing production,” the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers wrote in a memo to regulators in March that was made public under a freedom of information request.
Canada’s fast-growing oil sands sector will soon exceed the capacity of existing pipelines, and analysts say producers will be forced to rely on trains, barges and other transportation alternatives if Keystone XL and related projects are rejected. Those options are generally costlier and less certain than pipelines.
Nevertheless, industry executives say they doubt yielding on tougher pollution regulations will help secure Keystone.
“I don’t know any policies in Canada with respect to (greenhouse gas) emissions that would have any sort of material impact on the approval process,” Russ Girling, president of TransCanada, the pipeline operator, said last month.
Even if Prime Minister Stephen Harper were to offer new greenhouse gas limits this year, the vagaries of the regulatory process virtually guarantee those plans will not be in place until after a Keystone decision.
Canada needed 12 months to finalize regulations curbing emissions from coal-fired power plants that were ratified last year, and the rules were significantly weaker in the end than originally proposed.
“Judging by what we saw with coal-fired power plants, there is a real risk that a proposal to limit oil and gas emissions could be watered down before it’s final,” said P.J. Partington of the Pembina Institute, a think thank that has opposed oil sands development, which reviewed the industry memos disclosed under the freedom of information request.
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker in Washington and Nia Williams in Calgary; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Douglas
WASHINGTON – A former Harper government appointee used a keynote speech at a Washington event Monday to trample Canadian authorities’ message on oil pipelines while describing the country as an environmental “rogue state.”
Mark Jaccard became one of the first people nominated by the Conservatives to the environmental file when he was named in 2006 to the federal government’s now-defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
Seven years later, the environmental economist delivered a lengthy rebuke of Canada’s climate-change performance at Monday’s event while the Obama administration grapples with whether to approve the Alberta-U.S. pipeline.
Jaccard, an adviser to different governments and a professor at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University, said he doesn’t want the oilsands shut down — he just doesn’t want them to grow.
“On climate, Canada is a rogue state,” Jaccard said.
“It’s accelerating the global tragedy … The U.S. government should reject Keystone XL and explain to the Canadian government that it hopes to join with Canada (on a global climate plan).”
That message stands in sharp contrast to that of the Canadian government, which has spent millions to publicize the benefits to both countries of developing the oilsands.
Jaccard was the headline speaker at a summit tied to a well-connected Democratic donor, the so-called “green billionaire” Tom Steyer, and attended by a number of U.S. media outlets.
Jaccard has become an increasingly bitter critic of the federal government. He was even arrested last year after joining a blockade on a train carrying U.S. coal from B.C.
His disenchantment with the Conservative government reached a boil after the 2011 election, Jaccard said in an interview after his speech.
He said he tried to work with the government — not only at the Round Table, but as an adviser to then-environment minister Rona Ambrose. But after the Conservatives won a majority in 2011, the rhetoric hardened, the Round Table vanished and it became clear they had no interest in tackling climate change, Jaccard said.
“In 2011, the gloves came off.”
In his career as an author, academic, and adviser to different governments since the Mulroney era, Jaccard also criticized the Liberals for a climate approach he still derides as a “labels-on-fridges-and-Rick-Mercer-ads” strategy to encourage behaviour changes.
More drastic policies are in order, he told his audience: greenhouse-gas emissions need to drop 50 to 75 per cent by 2050 to limit temperature growth to a 2C target — an impossible task with a growing oilpatch, Jaccard said.
The event, and the choice of location, were designed to arm-twist the Obama administration as it faces its Keystone dilemma.
Last June in Georgetown, President Barack Obama delivered a speech in June saying Keystone would not be approved if it significantly increases greenhouse-gas emissions.
The title of Monday’s event was, “Can Keystone Pass The President’s Climate Test?” One speaker after another suggested that, no, Keystone cannot be approved without a significant increase in carbon pollution as a result.
In the hallways, the many Obama supporters speculated about when the long-awaited decision might finally come down. And some suggested they’ve become increasingly hopeful the project will be blocked, given Obama’s choice of words.
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm even allowed herself to daydream about what an eventual presidential rejection might sound like. A decision is expected in early 2014.
“I think he could deliver a speech that could give him a legacy he would be proud of,” Granholm, the event moderator, said from the stage.
Earlier, Steyer described Keystone as a logical investment for the oil industry that would drive up the value of Canadian oil and ramp up development — which is precisely why he believes it shouldn’t be allowed to proceed.
“(Keystone) is a literal and a figurative line in the sands,” Steyer said. “Keystone is the economic key to unlocking the tarsands and, as such, it fails the president’s test.”
The other side of the Keystone debate was not represented at the event. TransCanada boss Russ Girling (TSX:TRP) and Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., both declined to attend.
The federal government later issued a lengthy statement condemning the characterization as a “rogue state.”
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said that, whether or not Keystone goes ahead, the Canadian oil industry will represent a minuscule fraction of global emissions. His statement also noted that 62 per cent of Canada’s electricity is generated from renewable sources — first in the G8, compared with 12 per cent in the U.S.
Canada has taken action to shut down coal plants, the largest source of greenhouse gases in the world, he added. While the Obama administration has taken steps to impose emissions restrictions and is believed to be planning more, coal remains an important source of energy in the U.S.
TransCanada, for its part, derided Monday’s event as a sham.
It said the project had been reviewed for five years by nearly two dozen state and federal agencies and that the “professional opponents” of Keystone are obscuring the central question: “about where America wants to get a source of oil from that it clearly needs.”
Critics of TransCanada’s Keystone XL project often argue that Canada should reap the full benefits of its natural resources, rather than exporting its petroleum riches south of the border. Head to the U.S. and, ironically, you can hear the same discussion. Much of America’s new found oil wealth is being shipped abroad, which is worrying Americans who figured they had a Made-in-the-USA solution to the country’s energy needs.
Since 1975, U.S. federal law has banned raw crude from being exported in the interests of national energy security. The legislation, however, doesn’t cover refined products, such as gasoline or diesel. American refineries are free to export as much refined product as they can sell. And these days that’s a lot.
Refineries in the U.S. are shipping record amounts of gasoline around the world, exporting the fruits of the country’s shale revolution to some of the same countries that not long ago were relied upon for crude supply. Tankers full of gasoline and diesel fuel — made from shale oil pulled out of places such as North Dakota and Texas — are being shipped to the Middle East, South America (including Venezuela), Nigeria, and the rest of West Africa.
Added up, the U.S. shipped a record 3.2 million barrels a day of gasoline, diesel, and other refined products in September, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That number is nearly 65 percent more than the U.S. was shipping in 2010, before the shale revolution took off in earnest. Three years ago, the U.S. was a net importer of gasoline and other refined petroleum products. Today, it’s a net exporter.
It’s easy to see why. Refiners in the U.S. are enjoying the double-barreled advantage of soaring home-grown oil supply and domestic gasoline demand that continues to limp along with the country’s tepid economic growth. The ban on crude exports, originally adopted following the OPEC-inspired energy shock, has effectively turned into a subsidy for U.S. refiners. The millions of barrels of oil being pulled out of new shale plays has nowhere to go.
In Canada, the dynamics of North America’s oil market led to what’s not so affectionately known as the bitumen bubble. A glut of oil in the U.S. Midwest caused bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to trade as much as $50 a barrel below the going rate in the rest of the world. The price of benchmark U.S. crude, similarly, is trading at a discount to world prices of anywhere from $10 to $25 a barrel.
With that kind of price advantage on feedstock, U.S. refiners have rarely had it so good. European refineries, in contrast, are taking it on the chin. Not only are they paying world prices for oil, but their traditional business of exporting surplus gasoline to the U.S. is shrinking and they’re rapidly seeing their product get displaced in other markets, such as Africa, by cheaper gasoline from the U.S.
American motorists may well be wondering when they’ll share in the boom times from the shale revolution. Despite record gains in domestic oil production, U.S. drivers are still paying more than $3.30 a gallon to fill up. U.S. oil production is up by 2 million barrels a day since 2011, so why aren’t pump prices falling to two bucks a gallon? The answer, of course, is all that U.S.-made gasoline now being burned offshore.
Shipping hundreds of thousands of barrels a day around the continent by rail comes with clear worries for public safety, as well as the environment, that are already being realized. The logic behind the continued expansion of oil-by-rail is tested even further given how much of that rail traffic ends up at coastal refineries that process the crude into gasoline for drivers in the Middle East, Venezuela and Nigeria.
The political cover of North American energy security is allowing Big Oil to frack and drill as fast as it can. Isn’t it worth asking who’s really benefiting from the shale revolution?
– Jeff Rubin, Jeff Rubin’s Smaller World
Carol Browner said “there will be some twists and turns” in the political debate over the pipeline, but “at the end of the day [Obama] is going to say no,” according to The Hill.
Browner served as head of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration and headed the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy for two years under Obama.
She made the comments at a Washington, D.C., meeting of the Center for American Progress, where she was joined on a panel by Van Jones, an environmental advocate with links to Obama, and Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has been on an anti-Keystone XL crusade.
Her comments come as Washington finds itself in the crossfire of the Keystone debate.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last month that he would not “take no for an answer” on the pipeline.
Posters calling Canada “the dirty old man” of environmental issues have been popping up around Washington, part of artist Franke James’ campaign to stop oil sands shipments.
But the ads failed to impress those south of the border, according to a new report, and even left people puzzled over assertions that Canada is America’s best friend.
A government-commissioned Harris-Decima pre-testing report on the ad blitz earlier this year found that focus groups in Washington were befuddled by the campaign’s original tagline — “America’s best friend is America’s best energy solution.”
“Few would immediately assume this means Canada, despite certainly considering Canada to be a good friend,” says the $58,000, taxpayer-funded report, posted Wednesday on Library and Archives Canada.
“Some indicated that claiming you are one’s best friend comes across as something one does when one is about to ask for a huge favour.”
Others took issue with the word “solution” because it suggested “America had a problem that needed solving.” In a similar vein, “virtually all objected to the reference to Canada’s ban on dirty coal as it seemed to imply that Canada is doing more than the U.S.,” the report noted.
The U.S. advertising offensive has included promotions and ads in influential publications and a website for American viewers, gowithcanada.ca. The ads shine a job-friendly and environmentally sensitive light on a cross-section of Canadian resource industries.
TransCanada, which is building the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to an oil terminal in Cushing, Okla., says it expects a decision on the pipeline by March of next year.
- Former Obama Adviser Says President Will Nix Keystone XL Pipeline (247wallst.com)
- Anti-Keystone billionaire takes aim at Harper’s hard line on pipeline, links it to U.S. shutdown (ctvnews.ca)
- Battle of the Billionaires Erupts Over Keystone Pipeline (dailyfinance.com)
- Petition Pushes Obama Campaign Strategist To Drop Keystone XL Client (huffingtonpost.com)
- Gore: Keystone an ‘atrocity’ (politico.com)
- Keystone XL decision expected by March 2014: TransCanada (business.financialpost.com)
- Keystone Foes Pledge Sit-Ins If Pipeline Advances (bloomberg.com)
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd said on Thursday it has cut production at its 115,000 barrel per day Horizon oil sands project and its Woodenhouse heavy oil operations after natural gas supplies were cut following a rupture on TransCanada Corp’s Nova regional natural-gas pipeline network.
Canadian Natural said in an email that production has been reduced following the incident on TransCanada’s 1.6 billion cubic foot per day North Central Corridor pipeline, which delivers gas to the Athabasca oil sands region.
- TransCanada says gas pipeline in northern Alberta may have ruptured (business.financialpost.com)
- TransCanada Pipeline Leak Being Investigated (olduvaiblog.wordpress.com)
- TransCanada says two customers still lack gas after pipeline rupture in northern Alberta (business.financialpost.com)
- TransCanada pipeline rupture forces oil firms to scale back production (theglobeandmail.com)
- Some Injured and Many Dead in Delta Gas Pipeline Explosion (etcetera9ja.wordpress.com)
CALGARY – Service on a natural gas pipeline that feeds oilsands producers in northern Alberta has been mostly restored after being disrupted by a leak.
“TransCanada (TSX:TRP) has confirmed that its response personnel successfully isolated the pipeline break section that occurred earlier (Thursday) on our North Central Corridor system, and has now resumed delivery of natural gas to most of its industrial customers in the area,” said spokesman Shawn Howard.
“TransCanada will be working with its remaining customers to restore full service.”
Howard said a drop in pressure on the line, 140 kilometres west of Fort McMurray, was detected about 2:50 a.m. Thursday.
At least one oilsands producer in the area was affected by the leak. A Suncor spokeswoman said its operations have been slowed, but that it was too early to say by how much.
No public safety threat was expected from the leak in the 92-centimetre-wide pipe. It carries sweet gas, which is low in poisonous hydrogen sulphide.
The nearest residence is about 50 kilometres away. Although a work camp is a couple of kilometres from the site, it was not evacuated.
“Natural gas, particularly sweet natural gas, does tend to dissipate quite quickly into the atmosphere,” said Rebecca Taylor, spokeswoman for the National Energy Board.
“You wouldn’t see pooling of product on the ground.”
First Nations in the area were notified of the leak, she added.
A spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board said the agency was aware of the leak and was following up with the company to gather more information. No decision had been made by Thursday afternoon to send investigators.
Howard said the cause of the line break is not yet known and will be determined during a subsequent investigation.
Energy board investigators were on site.
- TransCanada investigates natural gas pipeline leak in northern Alberta (globalnews.ca)
- Pipeline shut down after natural gas leak detected near Fort McMurray (calgaryherald.com)
- TransCanada says gas pipeline in northern Alberta may have ruptured (business.financialpost.com)
- TransCanada Expects U.S. Decision on Keystone XL by End of March (bloomberg.com)
- TransCanada says pipeline may have ruptured (mining.com)
- TransCanada pipeline rupture forces oil firms to scale back production (theglobeandmail.com)
- Joe Oliver makes energy sales pitch in Washington (cbc.ca)
- As Keystone battle drags on, the oil market is moving on without it by adding rail capacity and other new pipelines at an increased cost, and greater risk and environmental impact (aei-ideas.org)
- Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action Premieres First in “Keystone Chronicles” Ad Series (sys-con.com)
- Harper offers Obama emissions deal to win Keystone: CBC (reuters.com)
- New Report Confirms Keystone Pipeline Won’t Increase Emissions (blogs.the-american-interest.com)
- Canadian minister says Obama Keystone XL blackmail may be working (junkscience.com)