Wednesday, May 1, 2013

News might be bad for completing the entire Keystone XL, and good for TransCanada

Some excerpts from recent articles to indicate why much of the Keystone pipeline might get built regardless of the decisions of a protectionist U.S. government

The U.S. Has Much, Much More Gas and Oil Than We Thought | National Journal
The United States has double the amount of oil and three times the amount of natural gas than previously thought, stored deep under the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, according to new data the Obama administration released Tuesday.
In announcing the new data in a conference call, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell also said the administration will release within weeks draft rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing, technology that has come under scrutiny for its environmental impact but that is essential to developing all of this energy.
“These world-class formations contain even more energy-resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil,” Jewell said in a statement. 
Prosperous play's new oil estimates could influence pipeline plans | E & E Publishing, LLC
The main section of the new Keystone XL line that TransCanada wants to build would extend from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb. The southernmost portion is under construction now, a line running from oil storage facilities in Cushing, Okla., to Nederland, Texas, with an extension to Houston and its Gulf refineries.

The northern route passes right through the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields, in eastern Montana. Jeff Share, editor of Pipeline & Gas Journal, said that this routing was strategic.
"TransCanada made plans a couple of years ago to scoop up as much of that Bakken oil as they can so Keystone would tie into that region," he said in an email. "The producers up there have been hamstrung because there is no major pipeline out of that region so they've had to resort to rail, especially to get it to the East Coast refineries."
...Share speculates that building the line anyway, without crossing the border, may be one option for the company. Doing so would only require permission from state governments and permits from the Army Corps of Engineeers.
Right now some of the Bakken product heads to east coast refineries - presumably U.S. east coast refineries.  Those refineries are a little worked up about Texas shipping crude to Canadian east coast refineries - believe it or not ....

Texas oil sails to Canada, refiners fume over tanker law |
...Oil traders including commodities giant Trafigura and Australian bank Macquarie have quietly begun shipping US crude oil from Texas to Canada, raising the ire of US East Coast refiners who may pay four times as much for a similar voyage.
In the latest oil trading trend to emerge from the unexpected boom in US shale production, the firms have hired at least seven foreign-flagged tankers to run the route to Canada this year, most of them for the first time, according to market sources and data analysed by Reuters.
US refiners, however, are required by a shipping law from 1920 known as the Jones Act to use more costly US-owned and operated ships if they want to tap into the oil bounty emerging from the Eagle Ford fields of Texas, highlighting the uneven playing field that is taking shape in the Atlantic basin.
Although the law itself has long been a bone of contention in the industry, the emergence in recent months of such a prominent example of how the Jones Act “penalizes” domestic firms is reopening old wounds
TransCanada hasn't been putting all it's Albertan oil eggs in the Keystone XL basket, with another option being converting natural gas pipelines to transport the crude within Canada - to the east coast refineries.

TransCanada proposal to ship Alberta oil to East Coast takes step forward | The Canadian Press

SAINT JOHN, N.B. - A proposal to transport Alberta oil as far east as New Brunswick took a step forward Tuesday as TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) announced it was seeking binding commitments from shippers before determining whether there is a business case to proceed.
The Calgary-based energy company said it is trying to determine whether there is enough interest in the idea, which would involve converting an existing 3,000-kilometre natural gas pipeline so that it could carry crude into Quebec.
The Energy East Pipeline project could also see a 1,400-kilometre extension that would ship oil into the port city of Saint John, N.B., home to the Irving Oil refinery, Canada's largest.
Proponents of the development say it would bring jobs and reduce Eastern Canada's dependence on foreign oil, thereby increasing the country's energy security.
Looks like a plan to me - leave the border crossing for a future trading administration, and handle what can be done within national boundaries in the interim.


Nationalism institutionalized in regulation is also apparent today on the nuclear front, where the NRC has nixed any possibility of a partnership between American NRG and Toshiba Corp acquiring a license to construct new reactors in South Texas because,
“At this point NINA from our perspective is foreign owned, controlled or dominated...Until such time as NINA can come up with a different corporate ownership structure we would not be able to approve their license.” 
-NRC shoots down Texas nuclear plant expansion | Dallas Morning News

Update May 3rd

A related story of a pipeline expansion being proposed by Enbridge, which is attempting to double the capacity of an existing line from Alberta to Wisconsim - hard to see how the State Department could oppose that having already blessed Keystone XL .... equally difficult for me to see how it will proceed in a protectionist political climate.

Enbridge Expansion Could Turn Into Keystone-Like Fight | Bloomberg
A new front may soon open in the battle over pipelines that transport Canadian oil to the U.S.
And this one involves a line that would carry even more oil derived from Alberta’s tar sands thanTransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s proposed Keystone XL, a project that has inflamed environmentalists who say it would exacerbate climate change.
Enbridge Inc. (ENB)’s request for a permit to boost the volume of oil on an existing pipeline from Alberta to Wisconsin has so far escaped controversy. That may change as the State Department begins to review the plan, which would almost double the line’s capacity to 880,000 barrels a day -- more than the proposed capacity of Keystone.
“We’re very concerned this has flown under the public’s radar,” said Peter LaFontaine, an energy policy advocate for the National Wildlife Federation, which is fighting both projects. “The public doesn’t seem to have the same sort of attention for pipeline expansions as they do for pipeline construction. But we’re talking about a lot of crude.”

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