Revisiting Keystone XL Pipeline

The result of a recent survey suggests there is strong interest in restarting the Keystone XL pipeline to replace Russian oil banned by the Biden administration last week. President Biden canceled the Alberta oil-sand pipeline’s entry into the U.S. on his first day in office.

The price of oil has increased sharply since last fall to more than $130 before it’s recent drop to just over $100 a barrel. Crude oil price increases had been attributed to the post-Pandemic economic recovery.  But now, with the U.S. facing a complete import ban on Russian oil, it seems there is strong U.S. support to jumpstart the Keystone project.

A recent national poll of just over 1,500 Americans, conducted by Maru Public Opinion, found that while 82 per cent of respondents support the Russian ban, about 71 per cent also believe the most efficient replacement plan is to complete the Keystone line. That project was to have oil from Alberta piped through the Midwest to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who’s government took a $1.3 Billion investment hit when the project was cancelled, has recently been lobbying hard to jumpstart Keystone. Kenney says the Keystone line-volume would more than make up for the loss of Russia’s war-tainted oil. “If President Biden had not vetoed that project, it would be done later this year. 840,000 barrels of democratic energy that could have displaced the 600,000-plus barrels of Russian-conflict oil, filled with the blood of Ukrainians.”

Now, with more than a year on the shelf, it’s not clear if that could even happen. TC Energy, the parent company behind Keystone XL, recently stated that it has no appetite to restart the project.

But Richard Masson at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary says both the economic and political landscape has recently changed drastically with the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Masson says the Keystone XL line was viewed as a major energy-security project by the North American industry.

“The refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast are designed to process heavy oil. Canada has the third largest reserves of heavy oil, so this pipeline was viewed as a crucial link between the supply and the market. We end up in a situation, now, where those refineries are still looking to get our oil. Keystone XL was viewed as part of the long-term future.”

So, it seems that most Americans believe Canada could fill the void left by the ban on Russian oil. When asked if the Biden administration would consider revisiting Keystone’s construction, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Keystone XL would not solve the problems currently being faced.

“That does not address any problems, it does not provide more supply into the system. There’s no plans for that, and it would not address any of the problems we’re having currently.”

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