Keystone XL Pipeline Map

Posted in Oilfield Spotlight

The practice of extracting oil via Canadian oil sands, like fracking, is controversial. Likewise, the proposed extension to the already existing Keystone Pipeline that currently runs through portions of Canada and the U.S. is generating concerns. The Keystone XL is being touted as a way to move heavy crude oil extracted from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada south to oil refineries in Texas. Featured here is a Keystone XL pipeline map (from TransCanada) including those portions of the Keystone system that are complete and operational as well as the proposed extension.

keystone-xl-pipeline-route-map

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would run 1,179 miles from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska.

Why is the Keystone XL pipeline project so controversial? There are a number of reasons, but the main ones are:

  • Jobs. Supporters of the Keystone XL contend that thousands of new jobs will be created because of the pipeline extension, while opponents claim that only a small handful of jobs will open up. In fact, the U.S. State Department is estimating that close to 2,000 construction jobs will be created as a result of the project. It’s a fair bet that many thousands more jobs could result due to a “ripple effect” of economic growth due to the pipeline extension’s creation.
  • Greenhouse Gases. Environmental groups oppose the Keystone XL because they want to see fossil fuel use curbed, despite harmful economic consequences. Environmentalists believe that dealing with climate change should be a top priority. Unfortunately for them, the jury is still out on whether climate change is even occurring. Even if it is, no scientific study can prove that humans are causing it via fossil fuel use or other methods. In addition, if the pipeline extension isn’t built, freight trains will carry Canadian crude oil to refineries instead. Even worse, those trains may well end up carrying a large part of that same crude to terminals located on Canada’s shores for export to countries like China. Trains run on fossil (diesel) fuel. So all environmentalists will succeed in doing if they manage to stop construction of the Keystone XL is swap one type of environmental concern for another, while allowing large oil exports away from North America.
  • Local Impact. Those who live closest to the proposed route of the Keystone XL have the most to gain or lose if the project is ever completed – or not. This is perhaps the most valid concern. TransCanada is claiming that only the most advanced construction techniques will be used to build the pipeline extension, and that the finished pipeline will be the safest ever built. In addition, we’ve learned how to build pipelines in environmentally sensitive areas (like the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline) and how to respond to oil spills in the unlikely event that they might occur.
  • For and Against. Over 65% of the U.S. population now favors construction of the Keystone XL, while roughly 30% opposes the project, according to Pew Research polls. Unfortunately, the Keystone XL project will move forward only if the current presidential administration gives it a green light. This hasn’t happened yet, and may not happen in the near future. Stay tuned.

It has long been time to make a decision on the Keystone XL project. Completing this essential piece of North America’s energy infrastructure will create jobs, improve the future energy and economic outlook for both the U.S. and Canada, and reduce safety concerns by limiting oil transport via freight train. We have built major pipelines in the past and are now moving huge amounts of oil through them without incident.

There are numerous myths surrounding the Keystone XL project, and the TransCanada site outlines them in detail. Meanwhile, you can still search for jobs in the oil sands of Alberta, Canada…