TransCanada to Seek Approval for Building Keystone in Pieces
TransCanada Corp. (TRP) plans to submit within weeks a new permit application for its $7.6 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline that won’t include either a new route through Nebraska or a segment from Oklahoma to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The U.S. State Department, which rejected a proposal in January over concerns about the pipeline’s path through environmentally sensitive parts of Nebraska, told the Calgary- based company that it may make a decision on a new application by March 2013, according to TransCanada President of Energy and Oil Pipelines Alex Pourbaix.
The company plans to begin construction by June on a pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Texas refineries that was originally part of the Keystone XL proposal, Pourbaix said in an interview at CERAWeek, a Houston conference held by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. That segment may be completed in the second half of next year, he said.
“This is the most exhaustively reviewed pipeline in the history of the United States (UNG),” Pourbaix said. “All that work has been done over the past two or three years. It would be very, very surprising to us if the vast majority of that record was not adopted verbatim into the new permit.”
The application will be for a pipeline to transport as much as 830,000 barrels a day of oil-sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing line from Nebraska to Oklahoma and the planned new line. That will let the company complete the pipeline in segments, Pourbaix said.
TransCanada has secured more than 99 percent of the land needed to build the Oklahoma to Texas segment of its pipeline, and only 14 landowners have not settled, Pourbaix said.
TransCanada has not “bullied” landowners along the route, he said. The company far exceeds the industry standard for avoiding the use of eminent domain in building its pipelines, he said. TransCanada has used eminent domain in less than 2 percent of cases compared to an industry average of 10 percent, he said.
“We have about 40,000 landowners and a 60-year track record of dealing with those landowners,” Pourbaix said. “If we ever heard any of our land people bullied or mistreated a landowner, that would be the last day they worked for TransCanada.”
TransCanada is working with Nebraska to find a new path through the state that avoids the Sand Hills region, a marshy, dune-like expanse where the water table from a giant aquifer reaches the surface. The company will update its application with a new Nebraska route in the fall, Pourbaix said.
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