One billion barrels of oil: enough to cover Canada’s daily crude consumption for 435 days.
It’s easy to get lost in the numbers so let’s look at this staggering figure in practical terms. One billion barrels is over a year’s worth of oil supply for our nation to manufacture the gasoline, the jet fuel and countless petroleum-based products like cellphones, prescription glasses or bike helmets that millions of us rely on every day.
One billion barrels of oil? This is also what TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline System has been safely transporting since July 2010 from Hardisty, Alberta, to the American Midwest – and beyond to the U.S. Gulf Coast after an extension was completed in 2014.
With all the debate surrounding the Keystone XL Pipeline, many people may not realize that the 4,247-kilometre (km) Keystone Pipeline System has safely delivered its one billionth barrel of Canadian and U.S. crude oil – bringing with it millions of dollars in property taxes and thousands of direct and spinoff jobs for the provinces and states it crosses.
“One of the real benefits of having the Keystone Pipeline is the folks from Keystone come here… They stay at the local motels, they eat at the local restaurants, they buy fuel, they stop at the Ace Hardware,” says Gary Westphal, General Manager at Butler Public Power District in Nebraska. “So, it’s a real positive economic benefit to not only Butler County, but to towns like David City.”
These benefits have come while ensuring that impact to the land and the environment is minimal, says landowner Doug Zimmerman, whose Nebraska soy bean and corn farm is along the original Keystone Pipeline route. If not for the safety sign indicating the presence of a pipeline, no one would know that a pipeline is buried under his property, says Zimmerman, adding he also sees no difference in crop yields in the particular area where Keystone was built.
What makes this achievement unique is not just its length or capacity, but the fact that most of the Canadian part of the Keystone Pipeline System was originally a natural gas pipeline that was converted to oil service, much like the proposed Energy East Pipeline will be.
“We are proud of our employees who have helped us reach this milestone and it is a testament to their hard work that we were able to convert a natural gas pipeline to oil service, safely delivering a billion barrels to date,” says Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer.
Energy East will use a 3,000-km section of the Canadian Mainline natural gas network for oil transportation. Why do we convert pipelines? For Energy East, we have a unique opportunity to convert an existing underused gas line instead of building a new piece of infrastructure between Alberta and Ontario, therefore reducing our environmental footprint.
To convert this section, we will use the same care and attention to details that we demonstrated for the Keystone Pipeline System. This means we’ll first assess the integrity of the pipeline to ensure it is sound for oil transportation.
We will perform thorough inline inspections with advanced technologies to assess any metal loss, crack, dent or strain. If we find areas of concern, we will repair them. Some repairs may be as simple as recoating the pipeline in specific areas for further protection while others may involve replacing a joint of pipe. We will also replace entire sections of pipeline if needed.
We never compromise on safety. This is how we have demonstrated world-class safety performance and why we have become, over the past 60 years, one of the leading energy transport companies in North America.
The safe transportation of oil and maintaining the trust of the communities, in which we work and live, are an utmost priority for all of us at TransCanada. That was our pledge to you on the Keystone Pipeline System and we fulfilled that promise. This was the premise for the first billion barrels for Keystone and it will be the same for the next billion and with Energy East.