TransCanada Corp. received the final of three key permits needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advance the 485-mile Gulf Coast Project -- the southern portion of what is expected to eventually be the Keystone XL pipeline. With the permit from the Fort Worth, Texas, Army Corps district added to previously received permits from the Galveston, Texas and the Tulsa, Oklahoma districts, TransCanada is now in a position to start constructing the oil pipeline in the coming.
The larger portion of Keystone, which would transport Canadian oil sands from Alberta, remains the center of a political battle as the Obama administration reviews a cross-border permit.
"TransCanada is now poised to put approximately 4,000 Americans to work constructing the $2.3-billion pipeline that will be built in three distinct 'spreads' or sections," said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer. "The Gulf Coast Project will contribute millions in property taxes to counties in Oklahoma and Texas, money that can be used to build roads, schools and hospitals."
The pipeline will transport growing supplies of U.S. crude oil to refineries in Texas. Gulf Coast refineries will be able to access lower-cost domestic production and avoid paying a premium to foreign oil producers, reducing cost and the United States' dependence on foreign crude oil.
State-of-the-art leak detection systems, elevated safety features and specialized staff training are in place to ensure the crude oil pipeline is safe. These features include:
- Around-the-clock monitoring of pipeline operations by highly trained staff who are empowered to shut down the pipeline at the first sign of a problem;
- A greater number of data sensors and emergency shut-off valves than in older pipeline systems;
- Information updates every five seconds on pipeline operating conditions from more than 36,000 electronic sensors that transmit data via satellite (16,000 sensors in the current operational Keystone pipeline, 6,800 for the Gulf Coast Project, 13,500 for Keystone XL);
- The ability to shut down the pipeline and isolate affected sections within minutes using hundreds of remote-controlled shut-off valves; and
- Requiring all possible problems to be investigated immediately by pipeline controllers and field staff. The pipeline cannot be re-started until it is confirmed safe to do so.
The company has voluntarily agreed to 57 additional safety procedures that will be incorporated into the construction of our crude oil pipelines, including a higher number of remotely controlled shutoff valves, increased pipeline inspections and burying the pipe deeper in the ground. TransCanada also uses a technique called horizontal directional drilling to drill under major rivers a minimum of 25 feet. This will allow us to bury the pipe deeper on both sides of the river bank, offering protection from floods or high river levels. The pipe will be made of thicker steel as it crosses rivers, will operate at a lower pressure and be further protected by advanced non-abrasive coatings.
TransCanada has safely and reliably operated pipelines and other energy infrastructure across North America for more than 60 years. The company's existing 2,154-mile (3,467-km) Keystone pipeline from Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma and Wood River/Patoka, Illinois has safely delivered more than 280-million barrels of Canadian crude oil to U.S. markets since July 1, 2010.
The U.S. Department of State is currently reviewing TransCanada's application for a Presidential Permit to proceed with the 1,179-mile (1,897-km) Keystone XL pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska and is expected to make a decision in the first quarter of 2013. TransCanada also continues to work with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to finalize a route that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sandhills area of Nebraska.
"The Gulf Coast Project and the entire Keystone system will further help the U.S. achieve true energy security," concluded Girling. "The U.S. Energy Information Administration has forecast the United States will continue to import more than seven million barrels of oil each day into 2035. I continue to believe Americans would prefer to consume their crude oil from domestic producers and from Canada rather than higher-priced oil from countries that do not share American values."