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Obama to Fast Track Oklahoma to Texas Keystone XL Segment

March 20, 2012

Within the last hour, CNN’s white house correspondent blogged that the Obama administration will announce plans to fast track the Oklahoma to Texas Keystone XL segment.  Obama plans an event at the TransCanada pipeyard at Cushing, OK, this Thursday, March 22.

Here at Plains Justice, we’ve been getting press inquiries about how much the administration can really speed up approval of this segment.  We’re more interested in why Obama wants to speed it up.  Reversing the Seaway pipeline will relieve the glut accumulating at Cushing by 150,000 barrels per day or more, starting in second quarter 2012.  Ultimate capacity estimates on Keystone XL have always been squishy.  We’ve heard that it may be able to carry as much as 900,000 barrels per day.  We’ve also heard that throughput that high wouldn’t happen until some time around 2035.

So if the real capacity need from Cushing to the Gulf can be handled in significant part by Seaway, what kind of game is TransCanada playing with segmenting Keystone XL?  Is it about hanging onto shipper contracts?  How much financial danger is the project in from the current delay?  Or is it more of a political ploy?  Is this Obama’s idea of splitting the baby?  Is it even necessary to build a second pipeline to handle the Cushing glut?

While we’re playing 20 questions, what does “fast tracking” mean?  Where the states have “fast tracked” Keystone I and Keystone XL, it’s meant ignoring things like Keystone I running straight through the drinking water catchment for the City of Fargo, North Dakota, without giving Fargo city government any formal notice.  Are Oklahomans and Texans going to get trampled by the feds purely as electoral politics?  Oh, this is getting good.  Will Big Green sue?  Will Texans revolt?  Will another big oil spill complicate matters at the most interesting moment?  Get your popcorn and stay tuned.

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