TransCanada says Exxon spill no threat to XL line
By Scott Haggett
CALGARY, Alberta | Tue Jul 5, 2011 3:53pm EDT
(Reuters) – TransCanada Corp said on Tuesday that Exxon Mobil’s 1,000-
barrel oil spill into the Yellowstone River will not derail its plans
to build the Keystone XL pipeline, but environmentalists promised
renewed pressure to block approval.
TransCanada is awaiting State Department approval to build the $7
billion Keystone XL line, which would carry 700,000 barrels per day of
crude oil to the gulf coast refining hub. A final decision on the
company’s application is expected by year end.
“Any time something like (the Exxon spill) happens it brings more
attention to the pipeline industry,” said Terry Cunha, a spokesman for
TransCanada. “But we’ll continue to move along with the process … and
address any issues the Department of State may have as we move
Environmental groups, some legislators and landowners along the line’s
planned route are pressing the Obama Administration to deny
TransCanada’s application, spurred by worries about the line’s safety
following BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the 20,000 barrel spill from
an Enbridge Inc pipeline in Michigan and well-publicized leaks from
TransCanada’s existing Keystone system.
The Saturday spill from an Exxon line under the rain-swollen
Yellowstone River gives the line’s opponents another argument against
approving Keystone XL, since TransCanada also plans to run the line
underneath the river.
“The Yellowstone is one of our last truly wild rivers,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the international program at the Natural
Resources Defense Council.
“Putting it at risk with an even-more corrosive and liable to spill or
leak pipeline like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is something that
both Montana and the federal government are going to be taking a hard look at, I think.”
TransCanada disputes claims that crude from Alberta’s oil sands is more
corrosive than any other type of oil. It also says that the line will
be buried well under the Yellowstone river, use thicker steel and
operate at lower-than-allowed pressures.
“The pipeline would be a minimum of 25 feet below the riverbed,” Cunha
said. “Additionally, entry and exit points for the crossing would be
extended away from the banks for the river. Thus, any risk of scour or
erosion exposing the pipe is mitigated.”
A number of pipelines already carry Canadian oil across the
Yellowstone, including Kinder Morgan Energy Partners’ 280,000 bpd
Express Pipeline and the Western Corridor pipeline system operated by
Plains All American Pipeline LP which can ship as much as 33,900 bpd.
Those lines carry crude to refineries in the U.S. Midwest and Rocky