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Explained: America's Complex System of Oil Transportation

A new analysis by Joseph Kane, Robert Puentes, and Adie Tomer examines America's current infrastructure of transporting oil throughout the country.
December 5, 2014, 10am PST | Maayan Dembo | @DJ_Mayjahn
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In a recent analysis through the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, Joseph Kane, Robert Puentes, and Adie Tomer delve into America's current oil transportation infrastructure. Indeed, as the United States is set to exceed Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer, "such a rapid rise in production means American transportation networks are straining under new pressures to safely and efficiently move all this energy between different markets."

While the Keystone XL Pipeline would run 1,200 miles from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska, it only accounts "for under 0.8 percent of the 150,000 miles of oil pipelines already spread throughout the country. In addition, there are 2.5 million miles of natural gas pipelines, along with more than 100 major refineries, further supporting the distribution of the nation’s various petroleum products."

The authors of the analysis go on to explain how "the KXL could handle up to nearly 830,000 barrels of oil per day. But in many regions with large shale reserves—such as Bakken, Marcellus, and Utica—levels of output already far exceed this capacity. At the same time, since the KXL largely focuses on moving increasing volumes of Canadian oil, the United States has all the more reason to explore alternate ways to move its domestic energy sources, regardless of where it’s refined."

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Published on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 in Brookings Institution
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