The Keystone XL Pipeline project has begun transporting its first barrels.
This project is a 1,700-mile expansion of the Keystone Pipeline, which currently begins in Alberta, Canada and ends in Cushing, Oklahoma. Not only will the extended pipeline connect storage facilities in Cushing with refineries in Texas, thereby relieving the former of its current oil bottleneck, it also includes a plan for a portion that links together Alberta and Kansas. This particular section would through the Bakken Shale region of Montana and North Dakota, where advancements in jet pump accessories and artificial lift production have helped drive an oil boom that has made North Dakota the second-largest state in terms of oil production.
While the part of the pipeline that links Canada and Kansas still needs approval, the southern portion, which does not cross any international boundaries, didn't have to wait on presidential confirmation and has proceeded without it. On Saturday, TransCanada, the Calgary-based company behind the project, officially kicked off the testing phase, transporting a number of barrels from Oklahoma to the Lone Star State. Over the course of several weeks of testing, the conduit will carry around 3 million barrels, all in preparation for the full launch. While TransCanada spokesperson Shawn Howard has expressed reluctance to define an exact date for the complete rollout, he indicated that it could be as soon as next January.
This project is particularly exciting, because it promises to bring North America's natural resources to the place where they can best be put to use in the economy. Currently, Cushing has more crude than it is able to refine. On the other hand, Texas is flush with refineries that are able to turn this raw material into useful fuel. By connecting the facilities in these two areas, the pipeline turns that unused excess into valuable energy.
Once construction of the Keystone XL is complete and the pipeline is fully operational, it will also allow the country to make effective use of the oil that is being extracted in the Bakken, which has quickly become one of the country's most highly productive regions. As long as well operators continue to use innovative hydraulic lift solutions to maintain high production levels, this infrastructure development will