Keystone XL opponents demand Obama reject pipeline

Less than two weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term, thousands of protesters rallied in Washington Sunday asking him to reject the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, which would transport crude oil from Canada to the U.S.

Activists say the $7 billion duct, which would run nearly 2,000 kilometres and carry 700,000 barrels of bitumen each day from Alberta to Texas, is a major threat to the environment.

Early this year, Obama put the project on hold, quoting worries over risks to an environmentally sensitive region in Nebraska.

Calgary-based TransCanada (TSX, NYSE:TRP), the firm behind the debated project, responded by proposing a new route that avoids the delicate area.

Obama’s administration later flipped and announced that the President would, in fact, fast track the approval of the southern half of the same pipeline.

Canada’s federal government wants to see the pipeline built, as it claims Keystone XL will create employment and inject billions of dollars into the Canadian economy, while also helping the U.S. secure its energy needs.

According to a report ordered by the U.S. government in 2010, however, Canada’s claims are not entirely true, as there is supposed to be already enough pipeline capacity to deliver oil to the U.S. until at least 2030.

The country exports 2 million barrels of oil per day to the U.S. and almost all of it ends up at Cushing, Oklahoma, the pricing point for U.S. crude. From here crude is shipped to Port Arthur, Texas, and refined into fuel.

Alberta’s crude output is set to more than double to 3.7 million barrels by 2025 out of a total of 4.7 million. Production in the U.S., particularly from the Bakken basin in North Dakota will see the country ramp up current 7.8 million barrels to 10.9 million barrels over the next few years.

Image from CTV News broadcast.

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