While Keystone XL gets all the attention, a new Bakken pipeline crosses the border
Enbridge completes pipeline project that connects North Dakota oil to its Canadian mainline
While TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL grabs all the headlines, another Alberta pipeline company has quietly finished a smaller cross-border project.
Call it a tale of two pipelines.
Two days after the U.S. State Department released a draft of its environmental impact study on Keystone XL pipeline, Enbridge Inc. announced it had completed another project that would carry oil over the American border.
Enbridge released a statement to little fanfare on Monday saying it had finished construction on its Bakken pipeline expansion project.
The 145,000 barrel-per-day pipeline now connects Enbridge’s North Dakota network to its Canadian mainline, which carries 2.5 million bpd of crude oil from Edmonton to Montreal.
While the Bakken pipeline is small (it’s a reactivated 25,000 bpd line that has been redirected and expanded), it is significant in that it crosses the border, like TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL.
The big difference between the two lines is that one crosses into and the other crosses out of the U.S.
The Keystone XL would carry oil sands crude from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, while the Bakken pipeline carries light oil from North Dakota into Saskatchewan.
In the last five years, production in the Bakken has grown from 200,000 bpd to 700,000 bpd. It could expand even further, to 1.2 million bpd by 2019.
And this growth has occurred in large part to the success companies have had fracking the tight rock to free up huge pools of oil – an extraction process that has plenty of critics who say it fouls drinking water and even causes earthquakes.
But it seems light oil fracked from the Bakken and piped into Canada doesn’t attract the same kind of attention as oil sands bitumen being piped into the U.S.
In fact, the construction period of the Bakken expansion project has lasted throughout the entirety of the State Department’s review of Keystone XL.
Keystone XL has become a lightning rod for energy and environmental concerns in the U.S. Environmentalists have pushed for President Barack Obama to throw out the State Department’s draft on the impact of Keystone XL, which said the pipeline would have little impact on climate change, and reject the project altogether.
But the case of Enbridge’s Bakken pipeline shows that not all cross-border pipelines stir up controversy.
Enbridge is no doubt thankful for that.