Energy efficiency | Subscribe News

Keystone XL oil pipeline – everything you need to know

Pipes for Keystone XL Pipeline

Miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Oklahoma. Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/AP


Powered by article titled “Keystone XL oil pipeline – everything you need to know” was written by Suzanne Goldenberg, for on Friday 31st January 2014 14.27 UTC

What is Keystone XL?

The Keystone XL project would expand an existing pipeline from the vast tar sands of Alberta to refineries in the US Midwest, nearly doubling the initial capacity and transporting crude oil deeper into America to refineries on the Gulf coast of Texas. Its proposed route would stretch about 1,660 miles, connecting Hardisty, Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas. It was first proposed in 2008.

The southern leg of the pipeline, from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast, was completed last year, and began shipping oil on 21 January.

But TransCanada, the company behind the project, is still waiting for the State Department to approve the 1,179-mile northern leg that would carry crude from Alberta across the border into Montana and onwards to Steele City, Nebraska where it would connect with existing pipelines.

What makes it different from other pipelines?

There are already about 2.3 million miles of pipeline across the US, carrying oil and natural gas. Some also carry diluted bitumen, the heavy crude from the tar sands that has a much higher carbon footprint than conventional oil.

What makes the Keystone XL pipeline different is the scale – and politics. Canada wants to double production from the Alberta tar sands, and needs new exit routes to do so.

Campaigners from and other environmental groups turned Keystone XL into a test case of Barack Obama’s promise to act on climate change – elevating a little-noticed infrastructure project into a national issue.

Keystone XL Pipeline Map

Keystone XL map. Photograph: Guardian

Why did people oppose the pipeline?

Environmental groups initially opposed the pipeline because it would tie America even more deeply into a highly-polluting source of energy. There were also concerns about pipeline leaks.

The first stage of Keystone had 14 accidents in its first year of operation.

But a series of accidents involving the shipment of oil by rail – including a fiery crash last June at Lac Megantic Quebec, that killed 47 and destroyed half the town – have undercut those arguments.

Protesters in Nebraska were also worried about the routing of the pipeline. Initial plans called for the project to cross the Ogallala Aquifer, an important source of irrigation and drinking water, as well as the sensitive Sand Hills. The pipeline was subsequently re-routed.

What are the arguments in favour of the pipeline?

Canada is a neighbour and close ally and shutting down the project would damage relations. The Canadian government lobbied hard for this project. Alberta’s premier made several visits to Washington.


Pages: 1 2

Comments are closed.

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.