Piping Hot

The struggle to get Alberta oil to market isn’t getting any easier –  lots of steam not as much progress

  • While Severely Normal Albertans breath a sigh of relief that Line 3 from Hardisty to Superior Wisconsin was approved by the federal cabinet there is a decision from Minnesota still pending. About 600 kms of the pipeline runs through North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. This is kind of like hostage negotiations.

  • The Minnesota Department of Commerce says Enbridge failed to show that Minnesota refineries (already at capacity) needed the project.

  • Enbridge disagreed of course; since the crude oil is aimed at the broader midwest market. A decision by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission is not likely until April. Construction of the Wisconsin portion of the line is under construction. As is work in Canada.

  • Meanwhile Nebraska continues to ponder TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. The project has US federal approval but requires Nebraska’s approval too. The acrimonious public hearings concluded in August and a decision by the Public Services Commission is slated for late November.
  • Back at home, vandals in Hamilton Ontario tampered on a segment of Enbridge’s Line 10 that runs through the city. An anonymous group told media they were in “solidarity with the Indigenous peoples”. They drilled holes in the pipe and poured corrosive chemicals into a portion of an empty pipe that was under construction.
  • The National Energy Board has granted TransCanada’s request to put the Energy East pipeline on hold. Speculation is that if the Keystone pipeline is approved the Energy East will be forgotten. It is a long expensive pipeline and will reach a limited market. It is widely believed that the Liberal government would like it dead because of political opposition in Ontario and Quebec.

  • And when you do the math
    • Keystone’s capacity is 830,000 barrels per day. It is 1900 kms long and will cost about $10 billion.
    • Energy East capacity is 1,100,000 barrels per day and 4600 km long and around $16 billion.
    • Pipeline capacity will exceed current and near term production particularly given the cap on oilsands emissions
  • TransCanada is currently trying to line up customers for Keystone by extending its “open season” to the end of October.
  • Hey! Earlier this month Calgary professor announced he had invented a way to create self-sealing balls of bitumen that can then be moved by rail, road or ship. A pilot project is to start in November to scale up the invention. CN Rail is talking about a similar project.