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Black Snake in the Grass
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July 12, 2017
Alternatives Journal

“Conduit & Trucks.” A web of above ground thermal conduit piping typical of the SAGD operations throughout the oil/tar sands. This network is part of Suncor’s Firebag facility in Alberta. Credit: Louis Helbig, Beautiful Destruction

There has rarely been a worse time to build pipelines in Canada than now. One wouldn’t surmise this from listening to the business elites of Toronto and Calgary, gung-ho for the newly approved Trans Mountain expansion, Line 3 replacement, and Keystone XL. Yet, economic conditions have changed greatly since the Keystone XL was first proposed nine years ago. The heated arguments surrounding the pipeline then cannot simply be warmed up again because the business arithmetic undergirding new export-pipelines no longer adds up like it once did. For all of the much-ballyhooed “public interest” that these projects supposedly represent, only a small segment of Canadian business will benefit and many pipelines will ship nothing but air.

Like the current Keystone pipeline, the proposed Keystone XL connects Hardistry, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, except by a more direct route. From there, the hydrocarbons would go to Cushing, Oklahoma, and from there, further pipeline additions already in place connect to port cities and refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.


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