Trump election revives Keystone XL debate

WILLISTON, N.D. -- Donald Trump's election may revive the debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline, with TransCanada Corp. saying the company "remains fully committed" to building the pipeline that President Obama previously rejected.

North Dakota Republican delegates stand behind Donald Trump at a press conference on Thursday, May 26, 2016. File photo by Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. - Donald Trump's election may revive the debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline, with TransCanada Corp. saying the company "remains fully committed" to building the pipeline that President Obama previously rejected.

"We are evaluating ways to engage the new administration on the benefits, the jobs and the tax revenues this project brings to the table," TransCanada said in a statement Wednesday, Nov. 9, a day following Trump's victory.

The proposed 800,000-barrel-per-day pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico requires a presidential permit because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border. Obama, a Democrat, rejected the project after opponents raised environmental concerns about the pipeline, which primarily would have transported oil sands from Alberta.

The Keystone XL would not cross North Dakota, but it proposed to transport up to 100,000 barrels of Bakken crude per day from an oil terminal near Baker, Mont.

During Trump's visit to North Dakota earlier this year during the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, the Republican said he would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, but added the U.S. should get a significant chunk of the profits.


"Let's take a piece of the action for you folks, lower your taxes a little bit more," Trump said last May in Bismarck. "Without us, they can't move it, so sounds like it makes a lot of sense to me."

While the Keystone XL was under review, the Bakken lacked enough pipelines to transport crude oil to refineries, leading to a reliance on rail transportation. But the addition of new pipelines has changed the market dramatically, with North Dakota projected to have excess pipeline capacity next year with the addition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Dakota Access LLC said this week the pipeline is complete except for the Lake Oahe crossing, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not yet authorized. Obama said last week the Army Corps was looking into the possibility of rerouting the pipeline.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said Wednesday he thinks Dakota Access "will be the interstate highway of Bakken oil" and any new developments on Keystone XL would be secondary.

However, Ness added the industry benefits from having more market options.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II renewed his call Wednesday for Obama to intervene with Dakota Access during his remaining time in office.

"We believe halting the Dakota Access pipeline presents a unique opportunity for President Obama to set a lasting and true legacy and respect the sovereignty and treaty rights of Standing Rock and tribal nations across America," Archambault said in a statement.

Trump also will likely be asked to consider the Upland Pipeline, another project proposed by TransCanada that would start in the Williston area and transport oil north to Canada.


The 240-mile pipeline would transport up to 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The project requires a presidential permit and is slated to be in service by the end of 2020 if it gets approved by the U.S. State Department, Canada's National Energy Board and the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

When asked about the Upland Pipeline during his trip to North Dakota, Trump said he wasn't aware of the proposal but he would "certainly take a look at it."

"My bias would be to approve it. I want to approve jobs," Trump told reporters. "The concept of pipelines is they're OK, if they're going to the right place. So we'll take a look at it."

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