Keystone XL and the Oil Mud

This publication published a response from TransCanada’s Manager of External Communications James Millar about their Keystone XL project (Aug. 21-27 issue). Just shows how desperate this company is to put a positive spin on their operations and get the new XL 36-inch pipeline (phase 4) built in addition to the existing 30-inch pipeline (phase 1) already operating. Anybody who looks at the Oil Sand operations and their location would be shocked at what they are doing in Alberta, Canada. How would you like a huge strip mine and refinery in one of our national parks that uses millions of gallons of fresh water?

The U.S. is doing far worse with its own widespread oil and gas fracking covert operations that have been exposed in Gasland 1 and 2. The facts about Canada’s Oil Sand are it costs a lot more than real oil from the U.S. to produce and is currently landlocked without the XL pipelines to transport it. Only 20 percent of the Alberta deposits are recoverable by mining, and production costs can add up to more than $50 per barrel. That’s double the production costs of oil shale-drilling operations in the U.S. The Oil Sand is so thick and sticky at 50 degrees F., it has the consistency of a hockey puck and can’t move through the pipeline. They have a plan to reverse the flow of the existing Kinder Morgan Cochin natural gas pipeline from western Canada to southern Illinois to deliver more light condensate, a product of U.S. Production, back to Canada to dilute heavy Canadian oil so it can be shipped by the new XL pipeline.

The project will cost $260 million and includes a 1 million-barrel storage facility in southern Illinois. There is an existing pipeline, Enbridge’s Southern Lights, in southern Illinois, which delivers light condensate to Canada now. The U.S. needs to get rid of a glut of light condensate, and Canada needs this substance to dilute and move the Oil Mud through the pipelines. The refineries that can handle the heavy stuff out of Canada are 2,000 miles away on the Gulf Coast. These refineries are no longer set up to process the light condensate into product. Once the oil and natural gas reach the Gulf Coast, they can be exported, not helping lower prices here in the U.S. If it makes no sense from an economic or environmental standpoint to produce and transport this Canadian Oil Mud, why is TransCanada pushing it, and why was it developed in the first place?

Doug Campbell

From the Sept. 11-17, 2013, issue

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