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article imageWhat is the future of the Keystone XL pipeline? (Part 1) Special

By Grace C. Visconti     Nov 22, 2011 in Environment
Calgary - This is an interview with Terry Cunha, Team Lead, Communications & Media Relations for TransCanada about the recent Keystone XL pipeline reroute.
Q: Regarding recent developments with the Keystone XL pipeline being rerouted, what concessions have leading Nebraska legislators made as they cooperate with TransCanada?
A: It’s to early to speculate on the new route but the legislation, introduced Nov. 14 in the State legislature, if passed, will ensure a pipeline route will be developed in Nebraska that avoids the Sandhills.
Working together with the State Department, Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality will conduct an environmental assessment to define the best location for Keystone XL in Nebraska.  We will cooperate with these agencies and provide them with the information they need to complete a thorough review that addresses concerns regarding the Sandhills region.
Q: What are the implications for TransCanada since the Keystone XL pipeline is rerouted and bypasses the sensitive Sandhills terrain in Nebraska? Will the pipeline also be rerouted away from South Dakota? How much will it cost in dollars and time if this delay occurs?
A: Again, its to early to speculate on the new route and its costs but it will not be re-routed away from South Dakota.
Q: How will this time delay affect the shippers and refiners? Have they already lost interest because of the delay or is this contract obviously worth waiting for?
A: We remain confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved.  This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed. 
We have had discussions with our shippers and we are confident their support of Keystone XL will continue.
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TransCanada says Oil sands GHG emissions constitute just over 0.1 (1/1000th) of global GHG emissions
Q: Protestors say they want the pipeline stopped because of pollution to air, land and water as well as an increase of greenhouse gas emissions that will increase dramatically upstream, primarily in Northern Alberta but possibly in other areas in the US. Did the 3 year long environmental impact study assess this possibility and if so, is this fear warranted?
A: The EIS looked in to the environmental impact of this project and it outlined that the environmental impact is minimal. Oil sands GHG emissions constitute just over 0.1 (1/1000th) of global GHG emissions, 6.5 per cent of Canadian GHG emissions. (Source: Environment Canada 2011)
Q: Is there any way that you can work with the environmentalists so that there is mutual cooperation by monitoring air, land, and water quality to avoid gross contamination that may occur in both countries as a result of possible leaks and spills from the pipeline? Would this not be in the best interest of everyone and the most responsible approach?
A: Our emergency response plan has been evaluated and approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the government body charged with ensuring pipeline safety in the United States.
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Terry Cunha of TransCanada
Terry Cunha of TransCanada
Terry Cunha
TransCanada has safety and emergency strategies in place if there are leaks and spills
Q: If this pipeline gets approved, what emergency safety measures and clean up strategies does TransCanada have in place if there is a disastrous spill that may contaminate land, aquifers, and surface water along the route where the pipeline is placed in both countries?

A: Our Keystone pipeline system is monitored 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Our pumps are remotely operated and the system includes hundreds of valves that shut down immediately with any loss in oil flow or pressure.
Our state of the art leak detection system includes overlapping systems to promptly detect a leak including:
• remote monitoring of pressure and flow data from the pump stations and valve sites that allows us to detect leaks down to approximately 25-30 per cent of pipeline flow rate;
• software-based volume balance systems that monitor receipt and delivery volumes sufficient to detect leaks down to approximately 5 per cent of pipeline flow rate;
• computational monitoring capable of detecting leaks to a level of approximately 1.5 to 2 per cent of pipeline flow rate;
• volume trending analysis to assist in identifying low-rate or seepage releases below the 1.5 to 2 per cent of pipeline flow detection thresholds; and,
• direct-observation methods, including aerial patrols, ground patrols, and public and landowner awareness programs.
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Voluntary agreements with landowners and job opportunities will be plentiful on both sides of the border
Q: What if landowners along the lengthy rerouted path revolt causing further delay? Will they have a legal case to reject the installation of the pipeline on their land?
A: Our focus is to work with landowners and reach voluntary agreements with them for our easements. We already work with over 60,000 landowners across North America.
Q: How many jobs in Canada and the US will be created because of this project?
A: The project will generate 13,000 construction jobs in the US and 3,000 construction jobs in Canada. In addition, we expect to create 7,000 manufacturing jobs and over 118,000 spinoff jobs as a result of this project.
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TransCanada is confident the Keystone XL pipeline will be built after the reroute away from the Sandhills
Q: What will it mean to the US and Canada if this project is completely halted due to the delay? Will Canada have an alternate customer? Will the US have to rely on Middle East oil that may be more expensive and harder to obtain?
A: I cannot comment on the impact to Canadians but as a company, we will continue to pursue opportunities to get this oil to the markets that want in.
Q: With the majority of Nebraskans, Americans, and Canadians still opposed to this project, is there a possibility that the Keystone XL pipeline will be completely halted? If so, what will be your next move?
A: We remain confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved.  This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed.
For more information on the Keystone XL pipeline, go to the TransCanada website.
PART 1 PART 2
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