CALGARY—Opponents of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL project vowed to watch “like a hawk” as the controversial pipeline’s southern leg began delivering crude oil to refineries in Texas.
The same day the Calgary-based energy firm announced that oil began flowing in the US$3.2-billion pipeline that runs between Cushing, Okla., and the United States Gulf Coast, Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska, a group fighting the pipeline, said the startup marks a sad day as it poses risks for those who live along the route.
Construction of the 780-kilometre Gulf Coast of the project involved more than 11 million man-hours of labour from 4,844 workers from the U.S., according to TransCanada.
“This is a very important milestone for TransCanada, our shippers and Gulf Coast refiners who have been waiting for a pipeline to supply oil directly from Cushing,” TransCanada president and chief executive Russ Girling said in a statement about the pipeline.
The northern portion of the pipeline, which is proposed to run almost 1,900 kilometres from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., has been held up by concerns over potential risks to drinking water supplies and climate change.
TransCanada and the Canadian government are awaiting a decision from the U.S. State Department and President Barack Obama, whose approval is required because the northern portion crosses the border.
“The workers who helped build this project are in addition to 8,969 men and women who constructed the initial Keystone Pipeline system, and we are waiting for approval of Keystone XL so we can employ more than 9,000 more Americans who are waiting to put their skills and experience to work,” Girling said.
Construction is also underway on the Houston Lateral project, a 77-kilometre stretch of pipeline that would connect the Keystone XL line with the Gulf Coast project.
—With files from The Canadian Press