Sunday, August 6, 2017

Will the controversial Keystone XL pipeline be completed?

        Nebraska landowners are pushing back against TransCanada's construction
       Photo credit: Guillaume Meyer/AFP/Getty Images


Phil McKenna reports for Inside Climate News:

It will be close to three years, at least, before oil could possibly be moving through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline—if the pipeline is completed at all. Company officials now concede that after battling protests and regulatory hurdles for nearly a decade, market forces could scuttle the project.
Canadian pipeline giant TransCanada first proposed the 1,700-mile project in 2008 to ship tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. The half-built project was halted by President Obama in 2015 only to be revived through an executive order signed by President Trump soon after he took office. The company has spent $3 billion on the project, mostly for pipe but also for land rights and other costs of lobbying for its proposal. 
During the prolonged dispute, the price of oil fell from more than $130 a barrel to roughly $45 a barrel today, undercutting the prospects for production growth in the Canadian tar sands, which were used to justify the Keystone XL project at its outset.
Along with changing market conditions, the emergence of competing pipelines scattered TransCanada's customer base. Now it's uncertain whether the company can sign enough new commitments from Alberta's beleaguered oil patch to move forward.
The company recently embarked on an "open season" for Keystone XL, inviting commitments from companies to ship tar sands crude (or, alternatively, lighter oil from the U.S. Bakken fields, in North Dakota and Montana).
At the same time, regulators in Nebraska are weighing the concerns of landowners, environmental organizations and indigenous groups who oppose the pipeline. The state's Public Service Commission will hold a week-long hearing starting Aug. 7 on whether or not to approve the pipeline's proposed route through Nebraska.
How much opponents will be allowed to tell the commission, however, was signficantly limited this week by a retired judge who is overseeing that hearing.




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