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Exclusive Map: The Tar Sands Pipeline Boom

The Keystone XL is just one of many pipelines in the works to export Canadian heavy oils to global markets.

By Catherine Mann and Stacy Feldman, InsideClimate News

Apr 30, 2012
(Page 4 of )
TransCanada Keystone pipeline depot, Gascoyne, North Dakota, February 2012/Credi

As debate over the future of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline continues to boil in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, energy companies are proceeding with many other pipeline projects that would give large amounts of Canadian crude access to foreign markets within the next five years.

InsideClimate News compiled a map and list showing industry's planned expansion. We discovered that there are more than 10,000 miles of pipelines planned to send an additional 3.1 million barrels a day of Alberta's oil to export markets, at a cost to build of almost $40 billion.

**To view and download the full map, click on image below or click here for PDF version.**

A breakdown of recently completed and proposed projects:

Keystone Phase I

Company building it: TransCanada

Project date: Online June 2010

Origin and destination: Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Neb., and on to Wood River, Ill. and Patoka, Ill.

Length: 2,147 miles

Capacity: Initial capacity is 435,000 barrels per day, with the capability of increasing to 591,000 barrels per day

Cost: Approximately $4.6 billion

Project status: Operational since June 2010


Keystone Cushing Extension (Keystone Phase II)

Company building it: TransCanada

Project date: Online February 2011

Origin and destination: Steele City, Neb. to the Midwest oil hub in Cushing, Okla.

Length: 298 miles

Capacity: Keystone Phase I plus the Keystone Cushing Extension can deliver up to 591,000 barrels per day

Cost: Approximately $1.6 billion

Project Status: Operational since February 2011


Keystone XL Pipeline Project

Company building it: TransCanada

Project date: Originally proposed in 2008. TransCanada is expected to file a new presidential permit application with the U.S. State Department in May 2012. A federal review is required because it crosses an international border.

Origin and destination: Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Neb.

Length: 1,179 miles

Capacity: Capacity of 830,000 barrels per day

Cost: Approximately $5 billion

Project status: TransCanada expects a start date of sometime in 2015.


The Gulf Coast Pipeline Project

Company building it: TransCanada

Project date: Originally proposed as the southern portion of the Keystone XL system in 2008. In February 2012, TransCanada announced that it would proceed with the south leg first to skirt a federal review of the entire project. Because it does not cross an international border, the southern part would not require approval of the State Department.

Origin and destination: Cushing, Okla. and extending south to Nederland, Texas to serve Gulf Coast refineries

Length: 485 miles

Capacity: Initial capacity of 700,000 barrels of oil per day, which could be expanded to 830,000 barrels of oil per day

Cost:  Approximately $2.3 billion

Project status: TransCanada expects construction to begin in mid-2012, with an anticipated start date of mid-to-late 2013.


Houston Lateral Project

Company building it: TransCanada

Project date: Originally proposed as part of the Keystone XL system in 2008.

Origin and destination: Liberty, Texas to Houston, Texas. Final route has not been determined.

Length: 47 miles

Capacity: Capacity of up to 830,000 barrels per day

Cost: Approximately $600 million

Project status: TransCanada plans to begin construction in the first quarter of 2013 and commercial operation in the first quarter of 2014.


The East Coast Pipeline Project

Company building it: TransCanada

Project date: Under consideration. Details first made public in a Globe and Mail article published in March 2012

Origin and destination: Across Canada from Alberta to refineries in Montreal, Quebec City, and potentially to Saint John, New Brunswick, where tanker exports could take the crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast, Europe or Asia

Length: The project would convert roughly 1,864 miles of natural gas pipe into oil pipe, and would build at least 370 miles of new pipe from Hardisty, Alberta, to TransCanada's mainline at Burstall, Saskatchewan, and on to Quebec City.

Total mileage: Approximately 2,234 miles

Capacity: 625,000 barrels per day

Cost: $5.6 billion

Project status: A TransCanada spokesperson told InsideClimate News that "an East Coast oil pipeline has merit," and that the project is "under consideration."


Alberta Clipper

Company building it: Enbridge

Project date: Completed April 1, 2010

Origin and destination:  Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wis.

Length: 1,000 miles

Capacity: Initial capacity of 450,000 barrels per day, with a total capacity of up to 800,000 barrels per day

Cost: Approximately $3 billion  

Project status: The line began moving oil in October 2010, and is still running under capacity, according to media reports, though Enbridge does not disclose utilization rates.


Trans Mountain Pipeline System Expansion

Company building it: Kinder Morgan Energy Partners

Project date: In operation since 1953. In April 2012, the company announced that it would more than double the size of the pipeline by twinning it.

Origin and destination:  Edmonton, Alberta to terminals and refineries in central British Columbia, the Vancouver area and the Puget Sound region in Washington. The pipeline reaches California, the U.S. Gulf Coast and overseas through the Westridge marine terminal located in Burnaby, British Columbia. It is currently the only pipeline carrying Alberta oil sands crude to the Pacific.

Length: 715 miles

Capacity: Current capacity is 300,000 barrels per day. The expansion would allow the pipeline to carry an additional 550,000 barrels per day, or 850,000 barrels per day in total.

Cost: Approximately $5 billion for the expansion

Project status: Kinder Morgan says the project could be completed in 2017.


Northern Gateway Pipelines

Company building it: Enbridge

Project Date: Proposed in the mid-2000s and postponed several times

Origin and Destination: Twin pipelines from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia. The eastbound line would transport natural gas condensate and the westbound line would carry oil sand crude to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, where it would be transported via oil tankers to Asia.

Length: 731.4 miles for each pipeline

Capacity: 525,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta to B.C. and 193,000 barrels per day of natural gas condensate from B.C. to Alberta

Cost: $5.5 billion, including marine terminal

Project Status: Because the project crosses provincial borders, it requires a public regulatory review process conducted by a national Joint Review Panel, or JRP. The JRP is expected to conclude hearings in the spring 2013 and release its environmental assessment of the project in fall 2013. The project has been heavily criticized by aboriginal groups and environmental advocates. Enbridge expects the pipelines to be completed by 2015.


Seaway Pipeline Reversal and Expansion

Company building it: Enterprise Products Partners L.P. holds a 50 percent stake. Enbridge holds a 50 percent stake.

Project date: Reversal was announced in December 2011. Expansion was announced in March 2012.

Origin and destination: The reversal will carry crude from Cushing, Okla., to Freeport, Texas. The expansion will involve construction of a new pipeline along the route of the current Seaway pipeline. There will also be an extension to Port Arthur, Texas.

Length: 512 miles

Capacity: The reversal will initially carry about 150,000 barrels per day of crude. By early 2013, the capacity of the reversed Seaway Pipeline will be up to 400,000 barrels per day. The expansion seeks to add 450,000 barrels per day of capacity to the Seaway system, which would raise its total capacity to 850,000 barrels per day.

Cost: Approximately $2 billion

Project status: The companies have applied for a May 17, 2012, start date on the 150,000 barrel per day reversal.  In late March, Enbridge announced that it would complete the twinning of the pipeline by mid-2014.


Flanagan South Pipeline Project and Upsizing

Company building it: Enbridge

Project date: Enbridge announced the upsizing of the proposed line to a 36-inch diameter line in March 2012.

Origin and destination: Flanagan, Ill., southeast of Chicago, to Cushing, Okla.  From Cushing, crude oil will then move to Houston and Port Arthur, Texas on the Seaway pipeline system.

Length: 600 miles

Capacity: Initial capacity of 585,000 barrels per day, up from the original 400,000 barrels per day

Cost: $2.8 billion

Project status: Enbridge expects the pipeline to be in service in mid-2014.


Trailbreaker Reversal

Company building it: Enbridge

Project Date: Proposed in February 2008. Currently on hold.

Origin and Destination: The reversal involves Enbridge’s existing Line 9, which currently transports crude oil from Montreal, Quebec to Sarnia, Ontario. With the reversal, oil would instead flow from Sarnia to Montreal. Through the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line (see below), it could then flow to Portland, Maine, where it could be shipped along the Gulf Coast via tankers. The proposal was seen as opening a gateway for oil sands to travel to the Atlantic Coast for the first time.

Length: 524 miles

Capacity: A minimum of 50,000 barrels per day of crude oil through the Trailbreaker, with a maximum capacity of up to 200,000 barrels per day

Cost: $346 million

Project status: The project was put on hold in 2009 due to lack of commercial support. Enbridge says it is no longer pursuing the project, but the company has asked the National Energy Board in Canada to allow for a partial reversal of Line 9. Conservationists say that is evidence that the company is now trying to accomplish its goals through piecemeal reversals on the line.


Montreal Pipe Line Ltd

Company building it: Montreal Pipe Line Ltd

Project date: Project conceived in 2008. On hold.

Origin and Destination: The project would reverse a Portland-to-Montreal pipeline that has been in place since 1941, and complete the final leg of the Trailbreaker project to the Atlantic.

Length: 236 miles

Capacity: Approximately 400,000 barrels per day

Cost: The reversal would require $100 million in modifications.

Project status: In February 2012, the Court of Quebec rejected Montreal Pipe Line Ltd's request to construct a pumping station near the Quebec-Vermont border, a crucial piece of the company’s plan to reverse the flow direction of its pipeline. On March 21, Montreal Pipe Line announced that it would not appeal the court's ruling. "At this point in time, we do not have an active project due to economic and market conditions," said Larry Wilson, the company's president, in a press release.

InsideClimate News intern Zoe Schlanger contributed research to this report.

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