Have Canadians Found A Way Around America's Interminable Keystone Delays?

A new pipeline proposed in Canada would take Alberta oil to an eastern seaport where it could be loaded on supertankers and transported to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

In this period of national gloom comes an idea — a crazy-sounding notion, or maybe, actually, an epiphany. How about an all-Canadian route to liberate that oil sands crude from Alberta’s isolation and America’s fickleness? Canada’s own environmental and aboriginal politics are holding up a shorter and cheaper pipeline to the Pacific that would supply a shipping portal to oil-thirsty Asia.

Instead, go east, all the way to the Atlantic.

Thus was born Energy East, an improbable pipeline that its backers say has a high probability of being built. It will cost C$12 billion ($10.7 billion) and could be up and running by 2018. Its 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude.

Its end point, a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, operated by a reclusive Canadian billionaire family, would give Canada’s oil-sands crude supertanker access to the same Louisiana and Texas refineries Keystone was meant to supply.

According to the article, the real bonus in this move for Canada is that, “Obama can’t do a single thing about it.”

This would be a good move for Canada, giving them much needed infrastructure to continue development of Alberta’s massive oil sands reserves, but it would be bad for America. We’d lose the economic impact of Keystone running through our borders. North Dakota, specifically, would be hurt as we’d lose the access to 100,000 barrels per day of access to Keystone’s bandwidth.

North Dakota’s Bakken region, much like the Alberta oil sands, needs access to more oil transport capacity. There aren’t enough pipelines, and rail capacity is overrun to the point where it’s hurting the state’s other major industry, agriculture.

But for no other reason than political obstructionism, building pipelines in America right now is a problem.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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