Keystone’s southern leg hits milestone

Keystone, Veto
Getty Images

The existing, southern segment of the Keystone oil pipeline system has pumped its billionth barrel, owner TransCanada Corp. said Monday.

The company is using the milestone to promote the safety of its pipeline and push the Obama administration to approve the highly controversial northern segment, known as Keystone XL.

“This is tangible evidence of how the safe delivery of Canadian and U.S. crude oil is helping to fuel the everyday lives of the American people in the safest, most efficient and least greenhouse gas intensive way possible,” TransCanada President Russ Girling said in a statement.

“To put this achievement in perspective, it would take approximately 1.7 million train cars or 3.3 million trucks to transport one billion barrels of crude oil,” he continued.

The Keystone system began operating in 2010. It carries crude from Cushing, Okla. — a major hub for oil transportation — to refineries on Texas’s coast and in Illinois.

Its regulatory approval took only two years, and President Obama spoke at a ceremony celebrating its opening.

That’s in stark contrast to the Keystone XL segment, which would link oil sands producers in Alberta, Canada, to the existing segment and on to Texas.

The XL portion has been seeking a permit from Obama for nearly seven years, as environmentalists, Democrats and others have argued that it would be harmful to the environment.

But TransCanada disagrees, as do the oil industry, Republicans and some Democrats.

“Identical to Keystone, Keystone XL will reduce GHG emissions and improve public safety by transporting crude oil via pipeline versus rail,” Girling said in his statement. “Keystone XL will also create tens of thousands of jobs, and oil imported from Venezuela and the Middle East would be replaced with American and Canadian oil.”