Keystone XL begins carrying crude ahead of Obama’s final decision on pipeline

Keystone XL begins carrying crude ahead of Obama’s final decision on pipeline

Keystone Pipeline’s pumping station in rural Nebraska.

TransCanada (TSX, NYSE: TRP) began Saturday to move about 3 million barrels of oil into the $2.3 billion Gulf Coast line, the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which runs from Oklahoma to the Texas coast.

The news, reported by The Globe and Mail, came on the same day that environmentalists stepped up their fight against the northern leg of the project, which would run from Canada’s oil sands fields in Alberta to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with other lines to move crude south.

The Calgary-based company is aiming to deliver 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Cushing to Texas, beginning next year.

TransCanada still is waiting for the Obama’s administration to determine whether it would be allowed to build the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, a required step because it crosses an international border.

As the State Department prepares its final review of the northern segment, environmentalists met with authorities Monday in a closed-door meeting, asking them to revise the department’s conclusion that carbon emissions related to oil sands development in Canada would not change much, with or without Keystone XL.

While an effort to curb emissions would help Canada's case, according to experts, The Wall Street Journal reports the Canadian government is going in another direction.

Canada's government approved the expansion of an oil-sands mine late last week with Royal Dutch Shell.

It is the latest in a string of efforts to ramp up oil-sands production, according to the WSJ.

The deal expands a part of an open-pit surface mine, adding on 100,000 more barrels of oil a day for production from the site.

Shell has not signed off on the deal yet but is reviewing the Canadian government's terms.

The decision came after a long environmental impact assessment by regulators and a second approval from Alberta, where the oil sands are located.

Image via Flickr.