Popular pipeline economics

The costs and benefits of building one or another hydrocarbon pipeline, or deciding instead to use rail or another mode of transportation, are as close to the popular consciousness now as has likely ever been the case. Between the rapid development of US shale resources and recent pipeline failures affecting the Yellowstone and Kalamazoo Rivers as well as the towns of Mayflower, Ark., and San Bruno, Calif., pipelines appear in the nontrade media with increasing regularity. One of the companies first referenced in any casual US pipeline conversation is TransCanada Corp., thanks in large measure to the protracted regulatory and political wranglings regarding its proposed Keystone XL pipelin...

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