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Keystone Pipeline leaking well beyond predictions

Published: November 27, 2017
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Source: Reuters

TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) existing Keystone pipeline has leaked substantially more oil, and more often, in the United States than indicated in risk assessments the company provided to regulators before the project began operating in 2010, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

An aerial view shows the darkened ground of an oil spill which shut down the Keystone pipeline between Canada and the United States, located in an agricultural area near Amherst, South Dakota. REUTERS/Dronebase

The Canadian company is now seeking to expand the pipeline system linking Alberta’s oil fields to U.S. refineries with its proposed Keystone XL project, which has U.S. President Donald Trump’s backing.

The existing 2,147-mile (3,455 km) Keystone system from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Texas coast has had three significant leaks in the United States since it began operating in 2010, including a 5,000-barrel spill this month in rural South Dakota, and two others, each about 400 barrels, in South Dakota in 2016 and North Dakota in 2011.

Before constructing the pipeline, TransCanada provided a spill risk assessment to regulators that estimated the chance of a leak of more than 50 barrels to be “not more than once every seven to 11 years over the entire length of the pipeline in the United States,” according to its South Dakota operating permit.

For South Dakota alone, where the line has leaked twice, the estimate was for a “spill no more than once every 41 years.”

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