The Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline decision will be delayed until June 2013, according to a Feb. 3 Daily Kos article. The main reason is that tar sands oil is so highly polluting that the European Union (EU) has already refused to allow tar sands oil distribution. A U.S. official said, "We're talking the beginning of summer at the earliest. It's not weeks until the final decision. It's months."
According to a Jan. 2 Omaha.com article, Rep. Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican, is very disappointed at another delay after 4 1/2 years of review and resistance. The Keystone pipeline would transport about 830,000 barrels a day to Texas refineries. He has attempted to get a bill passed but failed. His only recourse is to try for another legislative solution.
Since the Keystone XL tar sand oil pipeline decision will be delayed until June, perhaps an alternative pipeline, the Northern Gateway Pipeline, would be more viable. That pipeline would terminate at North Pacific ports to allow shipments to Asian markets. That pipeline faces enormous public resistance because it would cross British Columbia and terminate at Pacific Ocean ports.
The push for a pipeline comes from Canadian oil interests that tried to convince the US and the EU to accept their output. The resulting public and government backlash has caused a decline in those fortunes. Low pipeline capacity caused the oil to go through continuing price discounts. The Western Canadian province of Alberta complained that it faced a $6 billion revenue shortfall because of existing pipeline constraints.
A Washington Post map of proposed and existing XL pipelines shows that the US would have extensive involvement with the oil. The proposed new XL pipeline would carry the tar sand oil 1,661 miles from Alberta, Canada and down through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The pipeline would terminate at coastal refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
Discovery News explained why tar sands oil is so controversial in a Sept. 2, 2011 article. Tar sands contain about 90 percent sand, clay and water. Ten percent is bitumen, one of the thicker hydrocarbon liquids. Tar sands crude is extremely difficult to clean up and is far worse than lighter crude oil for sensitive environments. The 10 percent of bitumen can be extracted, purified and refined into synthetic crude oil and gasoline.
Along the way, the pipeline would pass through some environmentally sensitive areas and raises questions about vulnerability to terrorist attacks or other acts of sabotage.
The question is why the Canadian mining interests do not refine the bitumen into oil first, and then send it through the pipeline. The answer lies in the major refinery capacity that exists only at coastal Texas and Louisiana.