President’s Keystone XL order gives hope to state’s oil industry

While original plans called for no part of the Keystone XL pipeline to cross into North Dakota, its importance was marked by the dollars and jobs it would bring to the state’s sunken oil industry.


So it came as a major announcement Tuesday morning when President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reopen the door for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project.

It now rests upon the Canadian oil giant if they would opt to move forward with the project.

“Our company hasn’t come out and commented at all yet,” said Jeff Boyce, a local representative of TransCanada.

Still, optimism ran high through the oil industry after Tuesday’s announcement.

Shipping costs by rail for North Dakota’s crude oil stands between $12 and $15 per barrel. The average cost to transport crude by pipeline is about $5 per barrel. The producer is putting an extra $8 to $10 in their pockets with each barrel when using a pipeline.

“This allows them to spend more money on capital expenditures,” said a 15-year employee of the oil industry, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Anytime producers are spending capital dollars, jobs are created.

“I feel additional jobs will be coming back to North Dakota because of this.”

TransCanada submitted its initial application for approval of the pipeline at the end of the last decade. The application called for it to run from Hardisty, Alberta to an existing pipeline near Steele City, Neb. The pipeline would be able to move up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day, including 100,000 barrels from the Bakken region, and provide approximately 20,000 direct jobs.

“The Keystone XL pipeline project has already been thoroughly reviewed and has earned the support of a majority of the American people,” Sen. John Hoeven, who pressed the Obama administration when it rebuked TransCanada’s permit last year, said in a statement on Tuesday. “They understand that to keep our nation strong and make our economy vibrant again, we need access to affordable oil and gas domestically produced by the U.S. and our closest friend and ally Canada.”

If completed the Keystone XL would extend down from Canada, navigate to the southeast directly through Baker, Mont., and join the existing Keystone pipeline in Nebraska. It would narrowly miss the southwestern corner of Bowman County.

President Barack Obama vetoed a bill last year that would have granted approval for construction to begin on the pipeline.

Trump pledged to reverse that decision. He invited TransCanada to reapply for a presidential permit and directed relevant federal agencies to provide an expedited review of the project.

He also verbally called for the pipes used in the Keystone XL, and similar pipelines, to be made in the United States. That could potentially jeopardize the existing pipes stockpiled by TransCanada on the far east side of Bowman County.

Boyce said he wasn’t certain if those pipes would be used, as he waited for his company to make a comment in the wake of Trump’s order.

After construction of the Bison natural gas pipeline north of Bowman County several years ago, TransCanada used a space it maintained near Gascoyne for storage. Many rows of pipes earmarked for the Keystone XL have remained there, untouched, ever since.

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