TransCanada mulls Bakken options while reapplying for Keystone XL

TransCanada Corp. is considering possibilities for moving Bakken shale crude south to the US Gulf Coast via a stand-alone system following the US rejection (OGJ Online, Jan. 18, 2012) of the company’s permit application for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. TransCanada had originally envisioned moving Bakken crude south as part of Keystone XL, concluding a binding open season for its Bakken MarketLink Project in early 2011 (OGJ Online, Jan. 21, 2011).

Options for moving Bakken crude south could include a completely new-built pipeline, or modification of Bakken MarketLink plans to route Bakken production to the existing Keystone pipeline, already delivering Canadian crude to Cushing, Okla. TransCanada declined to comment on specific possibilities, saying that discussions need to occur with customers and nothing has been finalized.

TransCanada confirmed that its Cushing MarketLink project, designed to bring crude from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Tex. (OGJ Online, Jan. 27, 2011), could not proceed as a standalone pipeline without Keystone XL. The stretch from Cushing to Port Arthur would have comprised the final leg of Keystone XL, and the company had for a time considered accelerating its construction once Keystone XL had been permitted to help debottleneck the Cushing hub (OGJ Online, Nov. 18, 2011) but will not proceed with the project in XL’s absence. TransCanada described the project’s current status as two 250,000 bbl tanks adjacent to the Keystone delivery terminal at Cushing.

TransCanada will reapply for a Keystone XL permit, describing its rejection as one of the anticipated scenarios. The company said it expects a new application would be processed in an expedited manner, allowing for an in-service date of late 2014. TransCanada also said it would continue to work collaboratively with Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality to determine the safest route for the pipeline and expects to complete this process in September-October 2012.

Contact Christopher E. Smith at chriss@ogjonline.com.

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