New route for pipe­line will be ready shortly, Tran­scanada says

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI

HOUS­TON | A Cana­dian com­pany that wants to build a 1,700-mile oil pipe­line through the U.S. heart­land to the Texas Gulf Coast will be ready within weeks to sub­mit plans for a new route that avoids the en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive Ne­braska Sand­hills re­gion, a Tran­scanada ex­ec­u­tive said Tues­day.

Tran­scanada also plans to be­gin con­struc­tion on the pipe­line’s south­ern tier from Cush­ing, Okla., to Texas by late spring or early sum­mer, said Alex Pourbaix, pres­i­dent of Tran­scanada’s en­ergy and oil pipe­lines di­vi­sion.

The pipe­line, which has be­come an is­sue in the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, is de­signed to bring oil from Canada’s tar sands re­gion in Al­berta to re­finer­ies along the Texas Gulf Coast. The up­per por­tion of the pipe­line re­quires U.S. State Depart­ment ap­proval be­cause it crosses an in­ter­na­tional bor­der, while the south­ern tier will need stan­dard fed­eral per­mits that Mr. Pourbaix thinks will be ready shortly.

The State Depart­ment, backed by Pres­i­dent Obama, re­cently re­jected the longer project, say­ing Tran­scanada needed to find a route that would avoid the Sand­hills and the Ogal­lala Aquifer, a key water source for eight states. At the time, Mr. Obama en­cour­aged Tran­scanada to pur­sue the south­ern por­tion of the pipe­line that would, in the short term, re­lieve a bot­tle­neck of crude at Mid­west­ern re­finer­ies.

Mr. Pourbaix said that part of the pipe­line would be ready by 2013.

“We’ll be tak­ing care of that bot­tle­neck be­tween Cush­ing and the Gulf Coast,” he told re­porters af­ter speak­ing on a panel at a Hous­ton en­ergy con­fer­ence.

That south­ern tier, he added, would only re­lieve the prob­lem in the short term. Hav­ing that por­tion ready in ad­vance will also not shorten the twoyear con­struc­tion time­line for the longer pipe­line, Mr. Pourbaix said, due to the se­vere win­ters in the north­ern United States that pre­vent con­struc­tion dur­ing those months.

In the long term, Canada wants to get more oil to mar­ket. With­out the longer Key­stone pipe­line that isn’t pos­si­ble. Mr. Pourbaix said as long as Key­stone is com­pleted by 2015, the prospects for other al­ter­na­tive western routes, that would in­stead take the prod­uct to China and the Far East, are not likely to get ap­proved.

Right now, Mr. Pourbaix be­lieves Key­stone XL can meet the 2015 dead­line de­spite the per­mit­ting de­lays. He said the com­pany is work­ing closely with the Ne­braska gov­ern­ment to find new routes and has iden­ti­fied sev­eral cor­ri­dors that will be made public in a few weeks.

It ap­pears the new plan will re­quire about 20 miles of ad­di­tional pipe, he said.

“Imag­ine a jog around the Sand­hills,” he said. “We’re talk­ing about a rel­a­tively mod­est jog around the Sand­hills.”

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