Controversial Keystone XL pipeline formally terminated

Article by Adam Duckett

THE controversial Keystone XL pipeline has been formally scrapped, ending a decades-long struggle between industry and environmentalists.

TC Energy – previously TransCanada – confirmed on 9 June that it had terminated the project. Its cancellation had appeared inevitable since January after US President Joe Biden revoked the construction permit for the 1,900 km pipeline, which would have carried crude oil produced from Canada’s oilsands to US Gulf Coast refineries. Biden said the pipeline “disserves the US national interest” as it seeks to take action on the climate crisis.

TC Energy said it will now coordinate with indigenous groups and regulators to meet its environmental and regulatory commitments and ensure a safe end to the project.

Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney said the state remains “disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the Keystone XL project, including the cancellation of the presidential permit for the pipeline’s border crossing.”

Alberta expects to lose C$1.3bn (US$1bn) from the project. A 150 km stretch of the pipeline has already been built in the province, and the government projected it would generate at least C$30bn in increased royalties over 20 years.

The project has been mired in controversy for more than a decade. Application for the pipeline was first filed in 2008 but it faced strong opposition from indigenous activists and environmental groups. The pipeline would have carried crude oil produced from viscous bitumen deposits that require a form of processing known as upgrading to produce crude oil that will flow. The energy required to upgrade oilsands deposits, which are a mixture of bitumen, water and sand, makes this type of oil one of the most energy-intensive to produce.

In 2015, US President Barack Obama denied permission for the project, saying it did not serve the national interest. His successor Donald Trump disagreed, overturning the decision in 2017.

“This victory is thanks to indigenous land defenders who fought the Keystone XL pipeline for over a decade,” said Clayton Thomas Muller, Canada Senior Campaigns Specialist at Environmental activist group

The group says it now wants Canada to follow on from Biden’s decision and call an end to other planned pipelines.

“With Keystone XL cancelled, it’s time to turn our attention to the indigenous-led resistance to the Line 3 and the Trans Mountain tar sands pipelines,” Muller said.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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