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A Reversal of Direction for TransCanada

TransCanada, the company that hoped to build a Canada-to-Gulf Coast pipeline, now wants to build one to carry Bakken oil from North Dakota to Canada, transporting oil now hauled only by trains that have caused recent deadly explosions.
April 5, 2016, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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The proposed Upland Pipeline Project "would travel 126 miles in North Dakota, beginning about 15 miles southwest of Williston and heading northeast to Burke County, N.D., where it crosses the Canadian border near Flaxton, N.D.," writes Amy Dalrymple, a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. "It would carry up to 300,000 barrels of oil per day."

The 240-mile pipeline "end near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border in Canada," according to TransCanada. In addition to serving Canadian oil refineries, it would also be destined for eastern refineries in the United States.

"The pipeline would transport Bakken crude to areas currently only accessible by rail, said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority," writes Dalrymple. 

“The expectations are long-term that this would be another key piece of infrastructure for the movement of Bakken crude,” Kringstad said.

Oil from the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and surrounding region has long been shown to be more volatile than oil from other shale formations. For that reason, the North Dakota Industrial Commission has taken steps to require drillers to reduce the volatility before it is placed in rail cars.

It was Bakken oil that exploded in rail cars in July 2013 in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, resulting in 47 deaths and the destruction of the quaint downtown.

Reducing crude-by-rail shipments, called "bomb trains" by critics, would seem like a good thing, so it was rather surprising to see the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) questioning the need for the project.

Joshua Axelrod, NRDC's policy analyst for the Canada Project, writes that the Bakken oil would be transferred to TransCanada's proposed Energy East Pipeline Project, which would carry tar sands oil, which may explain their opposition.

The Upland Pipe could be in operation by 2020 if TransCanada gets its ducks in order, meaning it receives permits from:

Hat tip to Clyde L. Anderson, Transportation Issues Chair, Nebraska Chapter - Sierra Club.

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Published on Friday, April 1, 2016 in The Bismarck Tribune
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